Urban Issues

Flashing Yellow Arrows on the Way

TRANSPORTATION – The City of Tallahassee currently operates and maintains 354 traffic signals, 124 traffic cameras and many other Intelligent Transportation System devices using the Tallahassee Advanced Transportation Management System.  In the fall of 2016, the City completed an upgrade to all of the traffic signal controllers using the latest control hardware. The City expects these investments to prove viable for more than 10 years. Additionally as a result of an upgrade, a variety of new traffic signal features are now available to traffic controllers that will impact how we move. Meet, “The Flashing Yellow Arrow (FYA)”.

According to City staff reports, “it has been shown through extensive research that drivers find a flashing yellow arrow to be a more intuitive indication that a movement is permitted, but that they should exercise caution before proceeding. The use of the FYA makes it clearer to drivers making a turning movement that they should cautiously enter the intersection and yield to pedestrians and oncoming drivers who are facing a green ball indication.”

The proposed change also addresses what some in the industry refer to as the “yellow trap”.  “In this situation, the left-turner interprets the change from the solid green ball to a yellow ball to mean that the opposing through movement is also transitioning from green ball to yellow ball and the oncoming traffic will be preparing to stop. This may not be the case. The FYA eliminates this potential issue since there is no longer any interpretation that the turner could “sneak” through on their yellow assuming the traffic approaching in the opposite direction will be stopping.”

City crews plan to covert signals to FYA over time as select signals require the upgrade. The City will also coordinate with FDOT to incorporate these signal upgrades on the more widely traveled state roads throughout town. 

The cost to make this conversion is estimated at $3,500 per intersection. Funding will be from the approved recurring traffic management projects (17015- Recurring Traffic Management Improvement and 17149 – Advanced Traffic Management System Enhancements.

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