Improved Pedestrian Safety at Signalized Intersections Operating the Flashing Yellow Arrow

David Hurwitz, Oregon State University



In some jurisdictions, protected left-turn phasing has been replaced with the flashing yellow arrow (FYA) for protected/permissive left turns (PPLTs) to reduce delay. However, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the conflict between pedestrians and the permissive left-turning vehicle. This presentation summarizes the results of research conducted with a high-fidelity, motion-based driving simulator and mobile eye-tracking equipment to study the effects of the opposing traffic, the presence and walking direction of pedestrians, and the number of section heads to display the FYA on driver performance. To accomplish this research, a six-intersection simulated environment was created. In total, 27 subjects completed the course, allowing the analysis of 620 permissive left-turn maneuvers. Eye-glance durations for the intersection approach and turning maneuver were captured for left-turn pavement bay markings, the signal indication, the pedestrian and vehicle waiting area, and the pedestrian signal heads. The total glance durations for each of these areas were analyzed. The following results were obtained: 1) the increased presence of pedestrians led drivers to focus more attention on these crossing pedestrians; 2) as the number of opposing vehicles increased, drivers spent less time fixating on pedestrians; 3) Four to seven percent of drivers did not focus on pedestrians in the crosswalk; and 4) there did not appear to be a difference between any variable and the presence of a three- or four-section head. In terms of practice, the results suggest that it may be desirable to limit the permissive operation when pedestrians are present. Moreover, the findings may indicate that the additional cost of four-section heads is not justified.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
December 31,2012
UTC Grant Cycle:
OTREC 2012
UTC Funding: