Tag Archives: yellow flashing

Driver wants details of yellow left turn lights

The in basket: Allen Gibbard writes, “Hoping you can help with lawful traffic signal responses.  Today while approaching an intersection, the main traffic signal was red, but the left-turn arrow (where I wanted to go) that had been flashing turned to solid yellow.  I interpreted that to mean I was free to turn left if I could complete the maneuver safely.

“As I entered the intersection on the solid yellow arrow, the arrow turned red.  I accelerated a bit to clear the intersection as fast as possible without incident.

“Here’s my question: does a blinking yellow left-turn arrow mean proceed with caution and a solid yellow left-turn arrow mean it will be changing to red soon so if you’re unsure if you can clear the intersection quickly, do not enter?  Like the yellow light within the green/yellow/red cycle of a main traffic signal light?

Guidance please!”

The out basket: My answer to Allen: A solid yellow left-turn arrow tells the driver the light is about to turn red and if he or she can’t make it past the white stop bar on the pavement before it does, he’ll be committing an infraction – and possibly be responsible for a collision. If it was green prior to going solid, it also is the end of a protected left-turn cycle during which oncoming traffic has a red light.

A yellow flashing left turn provides a period of permissive left turns during which oncoming traffic does NOT have a red light and has the right of way over the turner, who must yield.

I asked Kitsap County Public Works if that covers it and Traffic Engineer Jeff Shea replied, “A solid yellow also terminates a flashing yellow. It’s important to understand what a solid yellow signal means. It doesn’t mean hurry up. You can cross the stop bar on a yellow. If you can stop safely, you should. If not, the solid yellow allows motorists to get through the intersection before conflicting traffic is given a green indication.”

When turn arrow flashes yellow and through signals are red…

The in basket: Ann Sevaaetasi e-mailed me to say, “I was turning left from Lund onto Jackson (in South Kitsap) and in the left-hand turn lane. The left-turn arrow turned yellow blinking.

“I understand that it is legal to make a left, after checking traffic. My problem was that the straight away signal turned red, (but) I still had a blinking yellow turn arrow.  I felt very uncomfortable turning left with the yellow arrow while the traffic signal was red.

“This is the first I had ever seen the light turn red with a left yellow arrow. Should I have made the left turn?”

The out basket: Ann was lawfully able to make the turn through the blinking yellow after yielding to other traffic. The signals next to yellow flashing left turns will display red for through traffic when a car using the opposing left turn light got there in time to get a green arrow, providing a protected opportunity to turn.That protection is provided by holding oncoming through traffic at a red light.

Ann evidently didn’t arrive in her left turn lane in time to get a protected turn with a green arrow, so got a flashing yellow signal and had to yield to oncoming traffic, which would have had a green light.

Yellow flashing lefts not guaranteed at 11th and Warren

The in basket: As I pass by the work at 11th and Warren in Bremerton, where the intersection is undergoing major changes to provide more holding room for cars waiting at the lights at Warren, among other things, I had some questions.

Will replacement of the existing traffic signals allow the city to put yellow flashing left turn signals there, as it did when the current sewer replacement project provided money to do that on Sixth Street?

And will the center lane of eastbound 11th be changed to a left-turn and straight ahead lane, as was done at Sixth and Warren for the Manette Bridge replacement project, or will it remain with two left-onlys and the outside lane the only through lane?

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson of the city’s street engineers says yellow flashing left turn signals are a possibility at the revised intersection, but by no means a certainty.

“With the Crosstown Pipeline project, we were able to update all of the signal controllers on Sixth Street from Kitsap Way to Warren Avenue to be able to implement the flashing yellow as we needed to make the entire corridor more efficient for traffic,” he said.

“The signals along the Warren/Wheaton corridor are inter-tied from 11th Street to Riddell Road and are of an older controller that will not accommodate the yellow flashers. Putting yellow flashers at 11th and Warren would require removing the inter-tie with the other signals.” The inter-tie allows the signals to work together to move the most traffic

“There are a couple of options we are looking at, but no final decision has been made,” he said.

He also said no changes are planned as to where cars in the three eastbound lanes of 11th can go.

Two more CK intersections could use yellow flashing lefts

The in basket: Two more Central Kitsap residents have nominated two more intersections for the blinking yellow left-turn lights that Kitsap County has installed at numerous Silverdale spots.

Alice Gray would like to see them at Ridgetop Boulevard’s northernmost intersection with Silverdale Way, near the top of the hill north of town. And Linda Bruce points to the next signalized intersection north, at Bennington Drive and Crestview on opposite sides of Silverdale Way.

Alice adds a new element to her request, saying that while she waits needlessly before being allowed to turn, “one can see there is no traffic  coming north on Silverdale Way for almost a mile and the left-turn light does not change to green until any northbound traffic almost comes to the intersection. I am sure I am not alone in my aggravation. When there are so many yellow blinking lights elsewhere, why isn’t there one here?”

The out basket: The two requests will have to be added to previous ones for the blinking lefts, at Provost/Old Frontier and Anderson Hill Road most recently.

As before, the reason is a lack of money to add those flashing lefts to any more intersections than have them now. When money becomes available, I’m sure those places will be considered,

As for traffic moving northbound on Silverdale Way looking at a signal that stays green until they are almost there, Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer, says, “We do work with the state to coordinate signals when possible, and when the coordination of the signals increases efficiency for through traffic.

“The (federal) Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) states signals located within a half-mile of each other should be coordinated. The signal at Silverdale Way and Highway 303 is about 1.5 miles from the Silverdale Way / Ridgetop intersection. In that distance there are many variables (speed, traffic volumes, opportunities to exit the roadway between the intersections) that makes coordinating the signals difficult. In light of that, coordinating these signals would not gain the efficiencies your reader desires.”

Nice job at Bucklin & Tracyton, county, but…

The in basket: Paul Ofsthun and Murray Webb like the widening of the intersection at Bucklin Hill and Tracyton Boulevard in Silverdale, but both think it could work better. 

Paul writes, “Although I love the new intersection with it’s new right turn lane and the new flashing yellow turn lights, I wonder why they put in a green right arrow (eastbound Bucklin to southbound Tracyton) but never activated it. 

“It sure would ease congestion if they had the green arrow on when the northbound Tracyton traffic is going. To me It looks like they planned on it but never activated it.”

Murray says, “….Kudoes to those involved….traffic moves much better!  

“However, could you please use your column to educate folks what a flashing yellow arrow allows them to do?  

“I remember reading that many lights in Silverdale will eventually be using them, but indications are that many (drivers) aren’t aware they are allowed to turn after yielding.”

Andy Boeckl makes the same observation about reluctant drivers at all of the yellow flashing lefts Kitsap County is putting in.

The out basket: About the right turn arrow, Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works says, “Activating (it) requires special programming, additional in-shop work, and consultation with the equipment supplier. 

 We … plan to activate the light when the process is completed.”

Those flashing yellow left turn lights are working their way north. The county debuted them in South Kitsap a year or so ago and has been retrofitting signals in Silverdale. 

So far, I think the county is the only jurisdiction in this county to use them, but a reader back in the Midwest somewhere who goes by the online name MidiMagic and follows the Road Warrior blog says the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices underwent a major revision late last year and now dictates that flashing yellow left turn signals are  the standard at intersections where left turners are allowed to turn after yielding to oncoming traffic. I’m trying to learn more about that.

The flashing yellows consternate many drivers when they first come upon one. The lights replace the situation where left turners faced a green ball light and a sign requiring them to yield before turning. 

They mean that although oncoming through traffic has a green light, you are free to make your turn if it won’t endanger any oncoming vehicles. They usually follow a green turn arrow that comes up first, and means oncoming through traffic has a red light.

They are growing in popularity because it reduces the amount of time left turners must sit and wait, their cars idling, before turning.





Wal-Mart turn light in SK needs a green phase

The in basket: Janet Brown wrote back in early September to say the traffic signal on Bethel Avenue allowing left turns into the South Kitsap Wal-Mart leaves something to be desired. 

“It needs a green arrow,” she said. “The left turn arrow never turns green and traffic is so heavy that you are stuck there for a couple of lights. People are running the red light to be able to turn.

The Road Warrior’s wife said she’s pretty sure the light had a protected green phase last Christmas.

The out basket: This is one of the many South Kitsap signals the county revised last year to provide a flashing yellow for left turns when on-coming traffic has a green light. The flashing yellow means the same thing as the signs that used to say turning left was legal on a green ball light but only after yielding to any oncoming traffic that is close. 

But most of them provide a protected green arrow signal right after the through lights turn green, offering a short time before the yellow flashing light takes over when left turners don’t have to worry about oncoming traffic because it has a red light. 

Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works says, “Your observation, and (your wife’s), is correct. There was, and should be, an initial protected green phase when a vehicle is detected waiting to turn. We are working to identify and correct the problem. Thanks for the heads up!”

That was on Sept. 18, and the problem remains. “There have been a few higher priority projects emerge,” Doug said Oct. 22. “We hope to get to that this week or next. We are hoping it is something easily remedied. If not, it could be a little longer before the work is done.”