I travel nearly continuously for the show all over the country. Occasionally, I come to an intersection somewhere that will have what I’ve always called a “jump light” or a “lead green,” where you have an arrow that gives you a protected left turn at an intersection.
What I’ve noticed in some places over the last few years is that following the lead green, instead of it going to yellow and then red, it goes to a flashing yellow.
This is something that is growing steadily around the country. USA Today reports cities like Minneapolis, Seattle and Detroit have installed flashing yellow lights for left turns at intersections. Meanwhile, the light has now become standard in Florida, Oregon and Minnesota.
Think about how many people are at an intersection with a lead green and it just never seems to be long enough to deal with the number of cars there. So what happens is people keep going past the yellow and through the red and you end up with T-bone accidents in the intersection.
If people know approaching that intersection that they’re not going to be there for a whole other cycle, that they can still turn on flashing yellow, that alone can stop some of the red light jumpers. The flashing yellow gives you a warning that means wait until traffic is clear to go.
According to the newspaper, one test shows a one-third reduction of accidents in intersections as a result of the flashing yellow light.
This is really a twofer to my mind: It can save you time and save you gas because you no longer will have to wait through a whole other light cycle.