Flashing yellow arrows improve safety, but create confusion for drivers

Victoria Spilabotte

Flashing yellow arrows improve safety, but create confusion for drivers

CREATED Mar. 26, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Driving on valley roads you'll notice hundreds of flashing yellow arrows at busy intersections and there's plans to install even more. 

"As we introduce the flashing yellow light safety at intersections improves dramatically," RTC Chairman & County Commissioner, Larry Brown, said. "Not only for the drivers, but certainly for the pedestrians." 
Brown said the lights are helping lower the number of accidents and deaths on valley roads by 20 percent at intersections where the flashing yellow arrow is installed. 
Although installation of the lights began two years ago, some drivers are still confused about what to do.
"It's confusing when you've never seen it before," Capt. Mark Tavarez, Metro, said. "When they first started installing them we had a lot of questions about exactly what it meant."
It means - drivers may turn left, but must yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. Our cameras caught some hesitant drivers stopping at the yellow arrow instead of moving through the intersection. 
To help raise awareness, state and local leaders came together to discuss the traffic signals. The Regional Transportation Commission is about half way through the installation of the yellow flashing lights throughout Southern Nevada. 
Four-hundred lights will be installed when the project is complete, but some drivers think the flashing yellow arrow is actually more dangerous. 
In January, 3-year-old Emily Kay died in an accident at Eastern and Pebble. Witness, Bob Berger saw it happen and thinks the yellow arrow played a part. 
"They say that people know what to do and it's making it safer I think it's made it worse," Berger said.  
"Its not been brought to my attention that we've had any accidents related to flashing yellow arrows," Tavarez responded. He said as long as drivers know the rules, road safety should continue to improve. 
The RTC said the next phase of flashing yellow arrows will be installed in the downtown area as part of the redevelopment process.