Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

Sept. 16, 2013

Orange barrels on a highway

New traffic signal in Thief River Falls is the first in northwestern Minnesota

Flashing yellow arrow signal minimizes delay, improves safety

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Motorists at the Highway 32 and Greenwood Street intersection in Thief River Falls will encounter a new traffic signal beginning Tuesday, Sept. 17, that features a flashing yellow arrow for left turns. This is the first time a flashing yellow signal has been used on a state highway in MnDOT’s district two, which serves 14 counties in northwestern Minnesota.

The signal was installed as part of the intersection reconstruction project at Highway 32 (Main Avenue) and Greenwood Street which was led by the city of Thief River Falls.

When illuminated, the flashing yellow arrow allows waiting motorists to turn left after yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. The new traffic signal will still use the traditional red, yellow and green arrows. Flashing yellow arrow signals have been shown to help drivers make fewer mistakes and they 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 thus far. Some Minnesota cities and counties are also 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 costly and will be done on a limited basis. 

To read more about the new flashing yellow arrow signals, please visit http://www.dot.state.mn.us/trafficeng/signals/flashingyellowarrow.html

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