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Flashing Yellow Arrow


The City of Pleasanton is upgrading the traffic signal at the intersection of Hopyard Road and Parkside Drive/ South Valley Trails on 12/19/2013 to include a new type of signal called a Flashing Yellow Arrow (FYA).  With this new style head the red left turn arrow can be illuminated to restrict left turn movements while pedestrians are crossing to improve pedestrian safety (this option is not available with the standard 3 section permissive left turn signals).  The different  signal indications for the FYA signal head are explained in the graphic below:


One of the goals of the Traffic Engineering Division is to provide for the safe and efficient movement of pedestrians.  At intersections where there are permissive left turns (circular green indication) pedestrians are crossing while left turns are permitted to turn across that pedestrian movement.  Vehicles are required to yield to opposing vehicles and crossing pedestrians when making a left turn when facing a circular green indication but don't always do so.  A newer type of signal head called a flashing yellow arrow (FYA) signal head allows for us to provide a better warning to drivers that they need to make the left turn cautiously, while looking for opposing traffic.  With this new signal we can also protect the pedestrians by giving left turn vehicles a red indication while pedestrians are crossing.

Protected/permissive left turn signal (PPLT) phasing is used to increase left-turn safety while minimizing wait times and overall intersection delay.  In the past the only choice for a PPLT traffic signal display has been the five-section cluster, "doghouse".  We currently have one installed at the intersection of Main Street and Ray Street.  While this type of display functions adequately, there can be driver comprehension problems when the signal is in the permissive phase.  Left turning drivers facing the circular green indication must know to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic.  Drivers are reminded of this fact through the installation of a "Left Turn Yield on Green" green ball sign. 

A newer style signal head using a flashing yellow arrow (FYA) was developed for PPLT phasing in an effort to reduce driver comprehension problems.  After an extensive study in 2009 by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program concluded the usage of the FYA is less confusing than the circular green indication, thereby increasing vehicle safety at the intersection.  It was included in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices in 2009.  The FYA signal head has been used in California since 2006 and its usage is becoming more prevalent across the country. 

The new style four-section head functions the same as the older five-section head, but studies have shown that the message is much clearer during the permissive phase.  Instead of the circular green indication, a flashing yellow arrow provides a direct message to drivers to cautiously enter the intersection when making a left turn.  With this new style head we can also illuminate a red left turn arrow (absent from the old protected permissive left turn signals) to restrict left turn movements while pedestrians are crossing.  The red arrow will protect pedestrians by  eliminating left turning vehicles from crossing during the pedestrian phase.

To view the Flashing Yellow Pamphlet click here.



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