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Drivers confused by new yellow flashing arrow signal

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Updated: 3/27/2013 12:45 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Drivers may have seen the new flashing yellow turn arrows that are popping up across the valley.

City leaders say they're getting a lot of questions from drivers asking what to do at these lights.

News 3's Sergio Avila talked with county leaders and found out what drivers need to know.

The lights are supposed to be safer than a static green light when it comes to making a left turn, but some people don't know exactly what to do.

County leaders took notice and they took time out to explain.

The first time drivers see these flashing yellow arrows, they do a double take. According to  RTC Chairman and Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown, many drivers react the same way.

“Change sometimes, that immediate reaction is, what do I do or what does that mean?” Brown said.

These lights have been going up slowly for the last two years. There will soon be more than 500 across the valley.

Metro traffic Captain Mark Tavarez says he's noticed some drivers just aren't getting it.

“Initially you would get the stop and go, stop and go because they are unsure of what the yellow light means,” Tavarez said.

Officers tell News 3 there's been some confusion as to what to do at these flashing yellow lights. Just remember, oncoming traffic has the right of way at green light, so yield to them and just complete your turn when it's safe.

The flashing yellow is no different than the old static green light when turning left. It's just a reminder to be careful when entering the intersection.

"It always means be aware of your surroundings just a little bit more because either the light is about to change, or they have just changed or things have changed in the intersection itself," Tavarez said.

The flashing yellow arrow tells the driver they can turn left so long as they yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

Since 2009, more than 200 flashing yellow arrow signals have been installed throughout Southern Nevada and another 189 are planned to come online during the next few years.

The city of Henderson has seen a 20 percent reduction in accidents where they've gone up.

It raises that safety level certainly for drivers but also for pedestrians," Brown said.

The idea is to make our roads safer."

The first step is making sure you know what to do when you get to one. Already 43 states use these kinds of signals and they've been successful at reducing accidents.

So far there's about 250 of them across the valley and within the next two years that number will more than double.

Top officials from the Nevada Department of Transportation , Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, Clark County, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and the cities of Las Vegas and Henderson announced on Wednesday that the Las Vegas community is more than halfway through an ambitious plan to make roads safer by installing flashing yellow arrow traffic signals at about 400 intersections throughout the Las Vegas Valley.

“We’re pleased to work in partnership with the RTC of Southern Nevada and the local public works agencies to install flashing yellow arrows at the appropriate locations,” NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon said. “We believe they are safe, provide more efficient movement of traffic and reduce driver frustration.”

A Federal Highway Administration study showed flashing yellow arrow traffic signals help prevent crashes, reduce crashes, move more traffic through an intersection and provide additional traffic management flexibility.

A preliminary analysis of a sample of activated flashing yellow arrow signals in the Las Vegas Valley showed they are making our intersection safer too.




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