Flashing yellow at Lund & Jackson worries reader


The in basket: Harry Mock e-mailed to say, “I have noticed that there is a recent change to the traffic light at the Jackson/Lund intersection (in Port Orchard) which is marked by a sign saying “Signal Revision”.  

“Specifically, the left turn lane arrows off of Lund and onto Jackson (both directions) blink yellow at times and, at other times, operate normally (green, yellow red).  Considering the volume of traffic at that intersection, it seems dangerous to have a blinking yellow turn arrow at any time. Can you say what caused this revision?”

The out basket: Kitsap County is putting these signals all over the county. Mile Hill Drive got them last year, and they are in Silverdale, too. North Kitsap has yet to get its first one, though.

The blinking yellow means the same thing as a sign saying “left turn must yield” when facing a green ball signal. They apply to intersections with “permissive” left turns rather than the “protected” left turn where a red arrow disallows turning against it and a green arrow means no oncoming traffic may proceed

Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer says, “The flashing yellow arrow safely increases capacity for signalized intersections. The concept of a permissive turn has always been around with a green ball indication. The green ball  is sometimes misunderstood by motorists, thinking they have the right-of-way to turn in front of oncoming traffic. It gets even more complicated when the signal changes from a left-turn arrow (protected left turn granting right-of-way) to a green ball (permissive left turn – you must yield).  

 “The flashing yellow arrow is better understood by motorists, according to studies,” Jeff said. “We can program them to eliminate the permissive turn if traffic volumes warrant.  

“A major complaint from motorists is having to wait at signals for a green arrow when no oncoming traffic is present,” he said. “The limited application of flashing yellow arrows has been well-received by area motorists. No accidents have been reported where the signal has been installed, and  queues in the left turn lanes have been eliminated or decreased.”

Dave Dahlke read this column on the Road Warrior blog and commented, “I wonder if this is being enacted all of the state or is this only a Kitsap County action.”

I haven’t asked that specifically, but Don Anders, head of the Olympic Region signal shop, says he likes the flashing yellows. “I feel this gives the public a better indication of a caution or yield movement,” he said.  Federal highway officials have allowed “this display to be used on a trail basis and many agencies are putting these into use,” he continued. “Some older signal controllers will not do this flashing operation without some modifications, so many agencies will not use it until they can upgrade equipment.  WSDOT has approval to use this type of display, but we have not used it here in the Olympic Region.”

14 thoughts on “Flashing yellow at Lund & Jackson worries reader

  1. One word: It’s about time.

    I think we’ve all been guilty of rushing through a yellow / lite-red light to avoid having to wait multiple lights after exiting either of the strip malls, and if not, we’ve sat through some very long red arrows that we were tempted to run due to zero eastbound Lund traffic.

    I look forward to this being implemented at other intersections.

    Thanks PO!

  2. I don’t like them. They can be confusing at times. I live very close to the corner in question and travel it everyday…doubt it’s doing much more than confusing

  3. I hope they install more of these flashing yellow left turn lights. They save quite a few gallons of gas not to mention the emissions while sitting idle.

  4. A green ball has always meant yield. It’s what we learned in traffic school. Don’t recall learning anything about a flashing yellow arrow. Most people are smart enough to figure it out, but I have seen quite a few near misses at Jackson and Lund since it was installed. I was used to people just running the light before the revision. The near misses have been scary.


  6. I dont like the light either. People have gotten in the habit when the person in front of them moves so do they. They arent paying enough attention to the color of the light. I thought that I p aid close attention, but also caught myself a couple of times following traffic. Lots of changes around the county, not all of them are good.

  7. I think if one is confused by a flashing yellow turn signal,then one should surrender their driver’s license (by mail) as soon as possible.

  8. This will be replacing the green ball for permissive turns everywhere, for a very important safety reason. The flashing yellow arrow can be displayed while the straight ahead signals are red. The green ball can not be displayed then.

    There is a dangerous sequence called yellow trap that many traffic signals display. It happens when the signals turn yellow in one direction, but remain green for the opposite direction on the same street. By keeping the yellow arrow flashing while the main signals are yellow or red, it keeps the left turning driver from turning across traffic that still has a green light.

  9. It’s funny that most complains seem to stem from Women, is this something significant – It would also be interesting to see age demographics of these people who say this is confusing – maybe the County should post pictures.

  10. There is a sign “left turn yield on flashing yellow arrow” that could be used during the first few months of each installation.

    I just saw a draft version of the new Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. It prohibits circular green and circular red indications on separate left turn signal faces.

    Flashing yellow arrows are now in use in 35 states (all except IL IN ME ND NE NY OH OK PA RI SC SD TN WV),

    Six states (AK MI MN OR TX WA) now require flashing yellow arrows for all new installations where it can be safely used.

  11. The new 2009 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices is now the standard. It was released Wednesday December 16, 2009. Google MUTCD for info.

    Some changes in the manual regarding this topic:

    – Flashing yellow arrows 4-section face now the standard signal for protected/permissive left turn signals.

    – Flashing yellow arrow means turn after yielding to opposing traffic.

    – Flashing red arrow means turn after stop.

    – Doghouse still allowed, but restricted to placement to the right of the lane line between left turn and thru lanes.

    – Yellow trap must be eliminated or signed (as in 2003 edition, but no grace period).

    – Dallas Phasing no longer allowed.

    – No circular green allowed over or in line with the left turn lane.

    – No circular red allowed on exclusive left turn signals. Must have red arrow.

    – Exclusive turn signal not allowed if no exclusive turn lane exists.

  12. A new look at the flashing yellow arrow:

    It has the same meaning as the circular green for the left turning driver.

    But it has a very different meaning for the driver who is NOT turning left.

    This is why the flashing yellow arrow was created. There is a need to separate the turning movement from other movements, with a separate signal indication for each.

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