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Beat the Traffic: Flashing yellow arrows added to Sugar Land intersections

by Katherine Whaley / KHOU 11 News

Posted on April 14, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 14 at 6:09 PM

SUGAR LAND, Texas—Flashing yellow lights are a new addition to stoplights in Sugar Land.

But do drivers know what to do when they approach them?

KHOU 11 News asked driver Terry Thierry if he knew what to do at the flashing yellow arrow at Eldridge and West Airport.

"Come to a caution… but it’s still yellow, so I technically could go, I guess I should slow down," he said.

Thierry had never seen a flashing yellow arrow before, and like many Sugar Land drivers getting familiar with the new signals, was a bit confused.

"I guess you slowly come to a stop," he said. "I guess, I don’t know,"

A flashing yellow arrow is basically an unprotected left turn. Drivers in the left-turn lane can legally go when the intersection is clear, while the rest of the lanes are stopped by red.

Sugar Land has added nine flashing yellow arrow intersections, mainly on Eldridge, to the five they installed last year.

David Worley of Sugar Land Public Works explained the purpose of the new signals.

"The idea is to try to reduce delays at the intersection, and the flashing yellow arrows allow us to do that," he said.

A lot of drivers have had questions about the flashing yellow arrow, so the city has installed signs at the intersections explaining exactly what to do.

"It means stop at the stop bar and wait until you can make a left turn through the intersection, but you should always yield when you see a flashing yellow or a solid yellow," Worley warned.

For most drivers who are used to the change, it seems to work.

"I like them, you just have to be very cautious about what you are doing," driver Lisa Alvizo said.

Drivers in the area should get ready to see more.

Sugar Land is the first to install them in the Houston area, but other Texas cities, including San Antonio, Irving, and Tyler, are installing them, too.

"This is not an experiment anymore," Worley said.