Flashing Yellow Lights


What the Displays Look Like

The Flashing Yellow Arrow signal display is a four-section signal head that incorporates a green left-turn arrow display for protected left-turn movements and a flashing yellow arrow display for permitted left-turn movements. It will replace the more traditional five-section head, which incorporates a left-turn arrow display for protected left-turn movements and green ball display for permitted left-turn movements.


The Transportation Cabinet began installing these displays in late 2009 and early 2010. Metro Louisville installed Kentucky's first Flashing Yellow Arrow Display in November of 2009.

Why Use These Displays?

For many years, some engineers have had concerns that drivers turning left on a permissive circular green signal indication might inadvertently mistake that indication as implying the left turn has the right of way over opposing traffic. As a result, federal research was authorized to study alternative signal displays. This research suggests that the Flashing Yellow Arrow display offers the following advantages:

  1. Provides increased versatility in traffic signal phasing which can result in reduced delays at signalized intersections.
  2. Provides a separate signal display for left-turn lanes as opposed to a shared display for left and through movements.
  3. Has a high level of driver comprehension.

How the New Displays Operate

The displays associated with flashing yellow displays and driver expectations are as follows:

   infograph explaining signal indications for flashing yellow arrow traffic signal                 flashing yellow arrow traffic signal animation


This page is maintained by Telma.Lightfoot@ky.gov, who may be contacted to make corrections or changes.
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