Ask NOW: Flashing yellow arrows confuse readers

Jan. 8, 2013

Flashing yellow arrows confuse readers

Issue: Some readers have been confused by the new stoplights in the area featuring a flashing yellow arrow and asked me to explain what the flashing arrow means.

Status: Joanna Bush, state traffic signal systems engineer for Wisconsin Department of Transportation explained that as usual a red arrow means stop and a green arrow means the driver has the right of way to make a turn. A steady yellow arrow indicates drivers must prepare to stop and a flashing yellow arrow means a driver may make a left-hand turn but must yield to pedestrians and oncoming traffic, she explained.

Installation of flashing yellow arrows began throughout the state in 2010, Bush said. Studies have shown that these arrows are safer. Drivers who are uncertain whether they have the right of way to make a turn at intersections that only have a green ball are more likely to go ahead and make that turn than drivers at an intersection displaying a flashing yellow arrow, Bush explained.

These yellow arrows will mainly be installed in intersections that are undergoing construction, Bush said. But, she said, they will also be added in locations where drivers are confused about when they have the right of way.

For a more in-depth explanation of the flashing yellow arrow, visit

Wauwatosa NOW .com

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