Have you noticed the flashing yellow left-turn arrows in Wisconsin? They’re popping up at several intersections including 51st Street and Brown Deer Road, village of Brown Deer; USH 18 (Bluemound Road) at Sunny Slope, Elm Grove Road and Underwood Creek Parkway in the city of Brookfield; STH 50 at STH 75/STH 83, town of Salem; I-43 ramps at Good Hope Road, city of Glendale and more.
The flashing yellow left-turn arrow indicates “yield to opposing (oncoming) traffic” as a substitute for the traditional green circular indication for left turns. Researchers have found that the flashing yellow arrow improves driver safety and awareness. Drivers should expect to see more of these in the next few years since the flashing yellow arrow is supported within the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), a design manual published by the Federal Highway Administration.
I was involved in the traffic signal design at 51st and Brown Deer as part of R.A. Smith National’s on-site services at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). This intersection utilizes flashing yellow left-turn arrows on all approaches and was one of the first of its kind in Wisconsin. As part of WisDOT’s Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), the improvements were completed to address historical crash problems at the intersection.
For more information visit the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s website at http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/flashing-yellow.htm.