Flashing yellow arrows add to crash concerns in Plymouth

Safety warning on flashing yellow lights

PLYMOUTH, Minn. - Flashing yellow arrows have been popping up in more Minnesota intersections in recent years in order to help improve traffic flow by giving drivers the option of taking an unprotected left turn.

But a year's worth of crash data from an intersection in Plymouth seems to indicate that the public isn't yielding the turn like they should.

The intersection of Rockford Road and Fernbrook Lane in Plymouth was among the first to add the flashing yellow arrows in March of last year. 

Drivers say the difference has been noticeable.

"Traffic flow is pretty good," said Terry Peniata, who lives at the corner of the intersection.

"It was a long wait before to get a green arrow, so that has been convenient," said Jessica Weiche.

But Weiche is among many who noticed that the intersection also grew more dangerous.

"During the busy times it's seemed like it has caused an increase in accidents," she said.

"I have seen a couple serious ones," Peniata said.

A year's worth of data uncovered 34 crashes at the intersection. Sixteen of those, or 47 percent, were directly related to a vehicle failing to yield at a flashing arrow.

"I think that that's a high number. I mean, half those crashes would impact a lot of people's lives if they never had happened," said Plymouth traffic officer Scott Kirchner.

And with even more data yet to come in from other intersections with flashing yellow arrows, police are now asking drivers to cut down their speed and distractions behind the wheel, while increasing their patience before turning.

They've already worked with the county to eliminate the flashing arrows on the busiest stretches of road during rush hour.

"The goal with that is to hope to reduce some of the crashes during these peak traffic volumes when we have more and more vehicles at these intersections," Kirchner said.

It's a change many are happy to wait for.

"We don't believe that in the rush hour, in the morning and afternoon, that it's worth it at this point," Weiche said.

© 2017 KARE-TV


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