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Michigan drivers should be on the lookout for a new type of traffic signal: the flashing yellow left-turn arrow. The new signal will eventually replace all current flashing red left-turn signals. Many of the new signals are already installed, and unprepared drivers may be caught off guard and become confused about who has the right of way at an intersection.

The Michigan Department of Transportation based its decision to update the traffic signals on a national study that suggested the new signals reduced the risk of collisions. However, Michigan drivers who have not seen the new signals or have not been educated about the progression of multicolored arrows may become confused, putting themselves and other motorists as risk. There are four main rules to remember when approaching a new left-turn traffic signal: 1) Red, as always means stop; 2) Flashing yellow means turn with caution – oncoming traffic has the right of way; 3) The green arrow means it is safe to turn left and oncoming traffic must stop; 4) Steady yellow means the light is about change back to red.

The new signals will appear nationwide. Introduction of new traffic signals in Michigan of any kind often results in more dangerous situations than before, at least initially. In the long run, however, as drivers become more familiar with the new signals traffic flow should improve. At high-risk, high-volume intersections, the new left-turn signals should reduce the risk of an accident for Michigan drivers.

Remember, it is important to be familiar with all types of traffic signals. Failure to obey a signal is a violation of the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code and could subject you to criminal and/or civil liability. Help reduce the risk of injury to all motorists in Michigan by learning about and obeying the new traffic signals.

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