New type of traffic signal makes its Hawaii debut

The new flashing yellow arrow signal at the intersection of West Kamehameha and Kane Aves. in Kahului, Maui. (Photo courtesy Rod Antone, County of Maui)

The first flashing yellow arrow (FYA) traffic signal in the state makes its debut Monday in Kahului, Maui.

The FYA is located at the corner of West Kamehameha and Kane Aves. near the Hawaiian Electric building.

To help drivers familiarize themselves with the new signal and how it works, the Department of Public Works and the Mayor’s Office have put together an instructional video for motorists.

“The flashing yellow arrow is designed to help motorists better understand when they have the right-of-way at intersections,” said Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa. “I ask motorists to familiarize themselves with this new signal by taking a few minutes to watch the instructional video.

“Like our traffic roundabouts, this new flashing yellow traffic signal will help maximize safety on the road for both drivers and pedestrians,” he said.

According to the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), engineers have had concerns that drivers turning left on the circular green light signals may mistakenly believe they have the right of way over opposing traffic.

Research on FYA’s have shown that:

  • FYA’s are the best alternative to the circular green when indicating that a left turn is allowed after yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.
  • The FYA was found to have a high level of understanding and correct response by drivers turning left at intersections, and a lower fail rate than the circular green signal.

As for the possibility that these new traffic signals will be in operation on the other islands, there are no current plans for installation on state highways. According to a spokesman from the Department of Transportation Highways Division, the department will instead be monitoring the Maui county signal.

“Generally speaking, these types of left-turn signals are better suited to smaller intersections and may not be viable options on larger, multi-lane state highways,” spokesman Derek Inoshita said.

For more information about the FYA installation and the federal program that initiated it, contact the Department of Public Works at 270-7845.

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