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June 8, 2010

VDOT Implements New Flashing Yellow Arrow
Three Route 60 intersections to receive new signal

Safety considerations resulted in the installation of Flashing Yellow Arrow Lights at several intersections in WilliamsburgJAMES CITY COUNTY– When James City County administrators requested that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) allow a permissive left-turn on green at three intersections near Busch Gardens—thus permitting motorist to make a left turn on a green signal while yielding to on-coming traffic—motorist safety was the number one consideration. After VDOT studied the proposed intersections it was determined, instead, to implement an improved signal technology new to the Commonwealth of Virginia: the flashing yellow arrow.

According to a National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), a left turn is one of the most dangerous movements a motorist can make. Left-turn traffic signals are designed to let drivers know when to yield to oncoming traffic or when they have the right of way, but the wide variety of signals in use Nationwide can be confusing.

The NCHRP initiated a study in 2009 to assess driver understanding of and response to the various protected/permissive left-turn controls. Protected turns are those controlled by a green arrow – protecting drivers from on-coming traffic. Permissive turns permit drivers to turn left only when oncoming traffic is clear.

The investigative study revealed that the flashing yellow arrow was safer and more effective than the more common circular green light and other signals at conveying to drivers the need to yield before turning left at permissive turns.

Engineers across the country have recently begun installing flashing yellow signals using the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Interim Approval. Nearly half of all states now have at least one flashing yellow arrow.

VDOT has utilized electronic message signs to introduce the new flashing yellow signals to motorists near the intersections affected:

  • Route 60 and I-64 on-ramp
  • Route 60 and Busch Gardens
  • Route 60 and Bush Gardens Employee Entrance
  • The signals are scheduled for activation on Wednesday, June 9.

For more information on the flashing yellow signal, see Report 493 by the NCHRP  (PDF, 822 KB) as well as an online demonstration developed by the Michigan Department of Transportation



Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.

Page last modified: Oct. 17, 2012