Flashing yellow turn lights new to North 7th Avenue


Flashing yellow turn lights new to North 7th Avenue

BOZEMAN, Mont. - New stop lights in Bozeman are confusing some drivers as they try to make left hand turns.

The Montana Department of Transportation added flashing yellow arrows to two traffic lights on north 7th Avenue in Bozeman, after the North 7th Interchange went through a construction overhaul.

The National Cooperative Highway Research Program did a study that demonstrated drivers find flashing yellow left turn arrows easier to understand than just yielding on green lights.

The Federal Highway Administration has adopted the flashing yellow arrow as the national standard for left turns for newly installed traffic lights.

The yellow arrows on North 7th are the first of their kind in Bozeman.

But some drivers seem to be finding these new yellow arrows somewhat confusing, and are taking time getting used to it.

If you've driven on North Seventh Avenue lately, you might have noticed new blinking yellow left turn lights.

The Department of Transportation added the new turn lights after revamping the North 7th I-90 interchange.

The same rules apply as if they were regular green lights. Drivers making a left hand turn must wait for oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

The Montana Department of Transportation says the blinking yellow turn lights are actually safer than standard green lights because they caution drivers to yield before turning left.

But, some drivers say they are taking time to get used to.

"The older generation I noticed that they get confused," said Bozeman resident Sven Kjelsrud, "and even some of the younger ones."

NBC Montana was at the intersection Thursday to see how drivers responded to the yellow blinking arrow. Most sailed through smoothly, but a few drivers seemed confused with the new signal, hesitating before turning.

"We did have a couple of calls in that the light may be defective," said Bozeman Police Officer Tommie Franscioni. He said confused drivers have even been calling them, thinking the light isn't working properly.

"I thought it was weird at first but it actually helps traffic out there," said resident Jennifer Resides.

It may take some time to get used to, but Bozeman residents said once they figured out the new light, they think it's a good change, especially if it keeps drivers safe.

"As long as it keeps traffic flowing better, I'm for it," said resident Pam Spinelli.
"If it's flashing yellow, it's like, 'caution, be careful before you turn because there might be some one coming who isn't paying any attention,'" said Resides.

Officer Franscioni agreed, explaining "I think it will definitely be a good reminder to drivers to make sure they're using caution when they make a left turn."

The Bozeman Police Department explained so far they have not had any traffic incidents because of the new light.

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