SALEM – Beginning Wednesday, April 3, the traffic signals installed in Roanoke County along Route 419 at its intersections with Route 800 (Chaparall Drive), Route 720 (Colonial Avenue), Postal Drive and Springwood Park Drive at Ruby Tuesday will be modified with new flashing yellow arrow left turn indicators.
To improve traffic flow and safety, the modified signal will display four arrows to regulate traffic: a red arrow to tell drivers to stop; a steady yellow light to communicate that the light is changing, so drivers should be cautious in making a left turn; a flashing yellow which means drivers may turn left after yielding to oncoming traffic; and a green arrow to show that the driver has the right of way to make a left turn.
The flashing yellow arrow will be used along Route 419 when lower traffic volumes make yielding to oncoming vehicles for left turns easier due to breaks in traffic. During peak travel times, when traffic volumes are higher, the solid green arrow will give the right of way to drivers making a left turn. Peak traffic hours on Route 419 generally occur between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.
Flashing yellow arrows are more effective than the more common circular green light and other signals at conveying to drivers the need to yield before turning left at permissive turns. Studies have shown that after a short learning period flashing yellow signals are better understood, better obeyed and are safer. A flashing yellowing arrow is more intuitive than a solid green light to communicate a permissive left turn to drivers.
Currently, flashing yellow arrow signals are being used at four other locations in the Salem District.