Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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Flashing yellow arrow turn signals

New four-head signal

A new style traffic signal is being installed throughout Wisconsin to control left turns and improve safety at intersections. New four-section signal heads with arrows will gradually replace the traditional five-section signal heads that had a combination of circular lights and arrows. The new signal heads with arrows provide a more direct, less confusing, message.

How the new four-head signals work

As usual, red means stop. A green arrow means a driver has the right of way to make a left turn. A solid yellow arrow means prepare to stop. A flashing yellow arrow means a driver may make a left turn if there is no oncoming traffic and there are no pedestrians crossing the street. The new flashing yellow arrow provides a more direct message for left turns: yield to opposing traffic and pedestrians before proceeding.

What is the benefit of the flashing yellow left turn arrow?

  • They are safer: A decade-long national study by the Federal Highway Administration found that drivers had fewer crashes with the flashing yellow arrow.
  • They are more efficient: The new signal provides more options for controlling traffic based on variable traffic volumes since the timing sequence can be made to vary throughout the day.
  • Reminder to all drivers: Any flashing yellow signal means drivers are to slow down and proceed through the intersection with caution. A flashing red signal means motorists should come to a complete stop before proceeding.

Questions about the content of this page:
Joanna Bush, Joanna.Bush@dot.wi.gov

Last modified: March 23, 2011

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