Iowa DOT to Implement New Traffic Signals

By Hayley Bruce, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa - The Iowa Department of Transportation is adding a traffic signal in hopes of helping remove the doubt some driver's face when deciding whether or not it is safe to turn left at an intersection.

The new left turn signals — which will be implemented throughout the state as agencies upgrade their traffic signals or work to make improvements at dangerous intersections — will now include a flashing yellow arrow that tells a driver when to yield to traffic

"There was always the issue with people misunderstanding the green solid signal so this flashing yellow indicates something is going to change so you should be alert," said Cathy Cutler, a transportation planner with the Iowa Department of Transportation. "And it seems very intuitive to motorists so that's why we haven't had any issues with the one that's been up and running (in Iowa City) for awhile."

A press release said the new light will consist of four signals including a steady red arrow that tells drivers they must stop and can not turn left, a steady yellow arrow that tells drivers the left turn signal is about to turn red so they should stop if they can do so safely, a flashing yellow arrow that tells drivers they can turn left but need to yield to cars and pedestrians, and a steady green arrow that tells drivers it is safe for them to turn because oncoming traffic is stopped.

The new signals are being implemented in order to help prevent crashes, reduce traffic delays, and provide more traffic management flexibility following a national study that found the flashing yellow signals were more understandable for drivers as opposed to intersections with yield-on-green signals.

Cutler said Iowa City has installed a flashing yellow at the intersection of Iowa 1 and Pearson Drive. Drivers in Iowa City should also expect to see the signals at the intersection of US 218 and Melrose Ave., and at the intersection of I-80 and Iowa 1 in coming months.

Cedar Rapids already has several flashing yellows signals, and currently has another application in for one at the intersection of Williams and Wiley. Boulevard.

The signals have also been installed in cities including Waterloo, Des Moines, and Coralville.
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