BEMIDJI, Minn. – Motorists at the Highway 197/Paul Bunyan Drive stoplight in Bemidji soon will encounter a change to the existing traffic signal that features a flashing yellow arrow for left-hand turns. This is the first time a flashing yellow signal has been used in Bemidji.
The change will go into effect in early to mid-June.
When illuminated, the flashing yellow arrow allows waiting motorists to turn left off westbound 197/Paul Bunyan Drive after yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. The revised traffic signal still will use the traditional red, yellow and green arrows, with an additional flashing yellow arrow section. Flashing yellow arrow signals have been shown to help drivers make fewer mistakes and minimize unnecessary waiting for motorists by allowing more opportunities to make a left turn.
After extensive testing, the Federal Highway Administration authorized use of flashing yellow arrows nationwide in 2009. The flashing yellow arrow is now part of the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s standard design of traffic signals. MnDOT has installed more than 60 systems throughout Minnesota to date. Some Minnesota cities and counties also are installing the new signals.
A study conducted by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program determined that drivers had fewer crashes with flashing yellow left-turn arrows than with traditional yield-on-green signals.
MnDOT plans to install the new flashing yellow arrow systems on most future traffic signal construction projects. Retrofitting existing signals to include flashing yellow arrows can be costlyand will be done on a limited basis.