The City of Wichita is implementing a new type of traffic signal to provide a safer, more efficient left turn for motorists. Flashing yellow arrows will begin debuting at new signalized intersections in Wichita.
At signalized intersections, there is often a separate signal indicator to let drivers making a left turn know when they either have a safe or guarded movement (protected) or when they must yield to oncoming traffic (permissive). In a protected left turn, drivers see a green arrow and are protected from opposing traffic, which is stopped. But in a permissive left turn, drivers can only turn when there is a safe gap in oncoming traffic, which has historically been conveyed to motorists by a circular green light.
According to national data, flashing yellow turn signals for permissive turns may reduce left turn crashes by as much as 20%. Traffic studies determined that a flashing yellow arrow was more effective at communicating to drivers that they must yield before turning left, due to a flashing yellow light being more commonly associated with the need to employ caution.
The West Street project, from Kellogg to Harry, is the first in the City to utilize the flashing yellow arrows, which go into effect at the intersections of Walker & West Street and Harry & West Street.
The City will use the flashing yellow arrows on all new traffic signals where appropriate. Existing signal indications would only be retrofitted on a case-by-case basis as determined by an engineering study. There are approximately 480 signalized intersections in Wichita.