The City of Midland will begin to convert several left-turn traffic signals in town this month to include a flashing yellow arrow.
The first phase of these conversions will include signals along both Midland Drive and Andrews Highway. Other signals throughout the city will be converted over the course of the following year, and any new traffic signals constructed by the city will also follow this new standard.
This type of display has been required nationally by the Federal Highway Administration for certain types of new installations since 2009, and has been mandated under Texas’ standards since the end of 2011. These standards were implemented based on extensive research and consideration by national experts because the flashing left turn display has multiple advantages over traditional left turn displays.
The flashing yellow left turn display allows the same movement for left-turn traffic as a circular green ball indication, but since green is associated with “go” in the driver’s mind, some motorists have mistaken a circular green that’s above a left turn lane to mean that the left turn movement is protected and they can proceed without yielding to oncoming traffic. The flashing yellow arrow more intuitively conveys the concept of caution and yielding to oncoming traffic than the circular green display.
In addition, traditional displays simultaneously show a circular red ball and green left arrow. This presents an inherent conflict in the minds of some motorists and can cause hesitation and confusion. The new left turn displays will show only one type of indication at a time, and all indications are arrows for a simpler signal design. This design provides more flexibility to traffic engineers to mitigate traffic issues.
The new flashing yellow left turn display has four types of arrow indications:
Steady green arrow – The left turn movement is “protected”, meaning that no conflicting movements are allowed. Proceed to turn with caution.
Steady yellow arrow – The signal is about to change to red. Prepare to stop or prepare to complete a turn if legally within the intersection and no conflicting traffic is present.
Steady red arrow – Traffic making a left turn must stop and wait.
Flashing yellow arrow – Left turns are permitted after yielding to oncoming vehicles and pedestrians.
For more information, please visit www.midlandtexas.gov/transportation.###
Media Contact: Traffic Engineer Mike Pacelli