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SCDOT introduces flashing yellow arrow signal head

Posted: May 7, 2013 1:58 p.m.
Updated: May 8, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Motorists along South Carolina’s streets and highways will soon see a new style left turn traffic signal head to improve safety and visibility.

The S.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) is beginning to install a new style traffic signal head, commonly called a "Flashing Yellow Arrow" (FYA) left turn signal head.

The first FYA signal head was installed May 1 in Richland County at the intersection of Farrow Road (S.C. 555) and Parklane Road at the Carolina Research Park.

These FYA left turn signal heads are designed to improve driver understanding of left-turn traffic signal displays. The goal is to improve efficiency and reduce crashes at signalized intersections.

The FYA left turn traffic signal head is designed to make it easier for drivers to perceive when to make a left turn maneuver. The traffic signal head adds a flashing yellow arrow display, which will mean left turns are permitted but drivers must use caution and yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians by turning when clear.

"It will be a very visible indication in your lane that will give you a cue on what to do," Carol Jones, SCDOT’s traffic signal and systems engineer, said. "So many times as you’re getting further out in the intersection waiting to turn, you have to look far to the right to see what the signal light is doing. Having this type of signal head in your left turn lane will give you better visibility on what to do and at what point. It’s all about visibility, and that translates into improved safety."

The new signal head will replace the "5-section cluster" (or "doghouse") style left-turn signal head at certain locations.

The new FYA signal head will also be installed in some locations where there currently is no arrow signal for left turns. In this case, the FYA will flash yellow when opposing traffic has the green light.

Approximately 10 to 15 new FYA signal heads are to be installed in the next year. Locations have not yet been determined.

An explanatory graphic showing the new signal head is available at:

The FYA will be part of a four-section signal head that includes, (from top to bottom), a solid red arrow, a solid yellow arrow, a flashing yellow arrow, and a solid green arrow.

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