Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Move over red and green. There’s a new traffic signal in town, and it’s yellow.
And if you drive, chances are you’ve encountered it.
The Nevada Department of Transportation installed 165 flashing yellow arrow turn signals last year at intersections across Southern Nevada, said Damon Hodge, a spokesman for NDOT. Yellow signals will be added in Las Vegas and Mesquite in the spring, he said.
NDOT’s website touts it as a “better left-turn signal,” which is safer and more efficient. Authorities said the flashing yellow arrow means motorists can cautiously enter an intersection, but they must yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians before making a left turn.
Metro Police Sgt. Todd Raybuck said the traffic signal is new to Southern Nevada and has led to some confusion among drivers. Residents have called city leaders with questions, he said.
Police also are investigating whether a flashing yellow arrow was a contributing factor in an accident this month that killed a 3-year-old girl, Raybuck said. The fatal crash happened at Eastern Avenue and Pebble Road.
“Because of that, we wanted to be sure people continue to be aware” of the new signals, said Raybuck, who works in Metro’s traffic bureau.
Fewer than a dozen flashing yellow arrows appeared at intersections in 2010 and 2011 under a pilot program launched by the Regional Transportation Commission and NDOT, Hodge said. Construction on the others began in 2012.
Flashing yellow arrows prompt drivers to check for oncoming traffic, unlike circular green signals, which motorists automatically associate with the word "go," Raybuck said.