Flashing Yellow Arrow Technology at US 50 & CR 111 Reminds Left-Turning Motorists to Use Caution

Oct. 30, 2017 -



SALIDA―With the completion of improvements at US Highway (US) 50 and County Road (CR) 111 comes upgraded infrastructure, including flashing yellow arrow (FYA) permissive left-turn displays, which indicate that left-turning drivers must yield to oncoming traffic.

"Salida drivers have been using this FYA turn signal display at this intersection since fall of 2016," said CDOT Traffic Engineer Tommy Humphrey. "The FYA display has also been used in Poncha Springs for several years at the intersection of US 50 and US 285, and is used on roads and highways throughout the United States."

Safety is the primary reason national guidelines have moved to FYAs for permissive left-turn indications. Crashes involving left turns, which often result in right-angle collisions, can be some of the most severe crashes at intersections. National studies have shown FYAs, compared to five-section displays (two arrows combined with three circular indication lights), reduce left-turn-related crashes by 16 percent to 20 percent. Compared to three-section circular light displays, FYAs have been shown to reduce left-turn crashes by 36.5 percent.

CDOT collected data for a stretch of US 160 in Durango for four years before installing an FYA system, and four years after installation. The intersection crash numbers reflected the national statistics: a reduction of 18 crashes, or 37.5 percent.

Regardless of FYAs, drivers still need to remain diligent when turning left off a roadway, explained Humphrey.

"Drivers should only turn left, off the highway, if the coast is clear and no oncoming traffic is approaching. The left-turn FYA is a cautionary indication, similar to any flashing yellow light along a roadway, meaning 'use caution,'" Humphrey said.

An FYA is displayed whenever oncoming traffic has a through-green signal.

"It's critical that drivers obey the directions of traffic signals when determining the movement of their vehicle at signalized intersections," Humphrey said. "A driver's failure to comply with light signal indications may lead to a collision with another vehicle."

More About FYAs

The Colorado Driver's Handbook also helps to further clarify FYAs. Understanding how to proceed when an FYA exists keeps everyone safer. The public should refer to:

  • Section 4, Rules of the Road 11.4, Turning (pg. 22):
    If you are turning left, you should wait at the stop line or crosswalk until there is a gap in traffic large enough to allow you to pull into the intersection and complete your turn. Pulling into the intersection to wait to turn left blocks the intersection for emergency vehicles, limits visibility for oncoming traffic and puts you in a position to get in an accident if the light changes and oncoming traffic runs the red light while you are making your turn.

Obey the Law

All left-turning vehicles, at signalized or un-signalized locations, are required by state law to yield to oncoming traffic, except when they have a green arrow.

Colorado Revised Statute, Model Traffic Code for Colorado Part 7, Rights of Way, 702, Vehicles Turning Left:

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.

Even if left turns have a green arrow, which means oncoming traffic will have a red, it is prudent to ensure oncoming traffic is actually stopping and not running a red light.