Maybe some drivers shouldn’t be on the road

It will never happen, of course, but Mary Divine’s Pioneer Press article on flashing yellow arrows is yet another argument for requiring drivers to prove every few years they belong on the road. We require that for pilots, for example, why not drivers?

If you don’t know what a flashing yellow arrow means by now, do you belong on the road?

It’s been eight years since Minnesota started using the flashing yellow arrow traffic signals, and eight years since news organizations told listeners, viewers, and readers what they’re for.

“In my experience, if a signal is flashing, that means everybody has to stop, and then you take turns,” motorist Cindy Tregilgas tells Divine. “That’s what I had been used to, so I wasn’t quite sure what to do. It’s that split-second thing. I stopped, and then I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll take my turn to go now,’ and somebody was coming.”

Coincidentally, the intersection at which confusion reigned was one of the very first traffic signals in the state to get the flashing arrow eight years ago.

Tregilgas pushed the Minnesota Department of Transportation for a better location of signs to explain the arrows.

Washington County complied for a few years but then stopped, probably because eight years should be enough time for drivers to learn the rules of the road.

“I’ve got some younger kids who are driving now, and they are taught in driver’s ed what the flashing yellow arrow means,” said Washington County Engineer Wayne Sandberg. “Most drivers have seen this, and they understand what it is. In fact, it’s the No. 1 request we have in Washington County that people want more flashing yellow arrows. I consider it, at this point, ubiquitous to driving. It’s well-known, it’s understood, and, therefore, you no longer need the educational component that these signs were trying to accomplish 10 years ago.”

If kids who are new to driving know the rules of the road, why don’t people who have more experience? Because we don’t have any system in place to require them to.

Think about your last driver’s license renewal. You wrote a check. You looked in the vision device and faked your way through, you posed for a picture. In essence, it’s just a shakedown for your money.

What if it actually served a purpose? What if we required people to take a 20-question test on a computer? Answer 15 correctly, you get a license. Fail any of them, and you immediately take it again after the system explains to you which ones you got wrong and what the correct answer was.

If you still fail, do you belong on the road at all?

“Really, I think the root of the problem is that when the federal government came out with these signals, they did not mandate signs,” Tregilgas said to the newspaper. “Each state can do whatever they want, which leads to chaos, of course.”

We require drivers to know what a red light means. There’s no reason we can’t require them to know — and prove they know — what a flashing yellow arrow means before they’re allowed to drive.

  • Jeff

    Pointer to closest McDonalds?

  • Kassie

    It comes down to cost. Testing every five years would mean a lot more test administrators and testing machines. That costs money and do Minnesotans really want to pay for it? I doubt it. It also mean older people failing, which would put the burden of transporting them on their children, which most Minnesotans also do not want.

    • Nicholas Kraemer

      Then a test after more than one moving violation (or after any, I’m not picky). The cost of the ticket can be increased to cover additional machines.

    • Too bad, I say. Life is hard.

    • Jeff C.

      Call it a job creation program. That can be used to justify anything.

      • But “Big Gubmint!!”

        • Joseph

          The political world has shown its only ‘Big Gubmint’ if the Dem’s are in charge — if the GOP is in office, then its just ‘getting things done’ ;P

    • John

      Driving is expensive. Drivers licenses are about the cheapest part.

      I say test away. I’ll pay for mine. If you can’t afford the drivers test, you probably can’t afford a car either – what with the gas, insurance, maintenance, and capital investment.

      • Kassie

        I know lots of people with driver’s licenses who don’t own cars. One does not equal the other.

        • John

          This is true, but my point is that the cost of a license and associated testing would continue to be a tiny fraction of the overall cost of driving (whether they own a car or not, if they’re driving, someone is paying for it).

          Driving is not a right. Proving competency behind the wheel (or at absolute minimum on paper) periodically should be an expectation.

          • Kassie

            I should of been more clear, I know lots of people whit driver’s licenses who don’t own cars and don’t drive very often. They occasionally rent cars or will drive home some people who drink too much. For some, the cost of renewing their license is the most expensive part of having one.

          • Laurie K.

            So they may possibly have to do a cost-analysis to determine whether it makes sense for them to renew their license. As someone else stated earlier, driving is a privilege – not a right.

    • RBHolb

      Pass the cost on to all drivers. I don’t particularly like the idea of paying more for anything, but if it improves safety on the roads, I’m fine with it.

      • Al

        I would pay more for my license if it meant safer roads.

        • I think the current license renewal is $25.25 (which is a weird amount).

          They last for four years.

          That’s about a penny and a half a day.

          Yeah, we can increase that cost. Give them a four year head start and enact the Bob Plan. That’ll give ’em time to come up with the way to save, say, 5 cents a day.

        • Kassie

          Do you believe someone taking a written test every five years would lead to safer roads? I don’t.

          • I believe someone would learn what a flashing yellow arrow means. Would that make the roads safer? I don’t see how there’s an arguable point to be made otherwise.

          • Dave S.

            I took the 55 Alive program (or whatever it’s called), which involves something like 8 hours of course work and a written test. I learned a number of things that were new or changed since I had got my driver’s license almost 40 years earlier. I’m now a safer driver because of it. Granted, this was for an insurance discount, but it would have the same effect if it was required for license renewal.

    • Postal Customer

      Also I’m guessing there would be many special interests who wouldn’t like this, such as carmakers, oil companies, insurance companies, cities who earn money on citation revenue, etc.

  • KariBemidji

    I heard this fun fact on a podcast last week – it takes about 10 weeks to become a bad driver after passing your license exam. https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/time-takes-become-bad-driver-12787925

    Laws have changed in the 27 years since I passed my drivers exam. How do I know that? I’m a parent to two teens who have gone through drivers training and all of my driving shortcomings have been pointed out. The hardest one to break – having my hands at 8 and 4 instead of 10 and 2 (the airbag will break your thumbs). I’m all for a quick retest to keep my license. It’s a privilege not a right.

    • Until you have your first kid. That drive home from the hospital is the safest anyone will ever drive. That wears off for the second kid. I’ve heard. :*)

      • KariBemidji

        The second kid is however, getting a better drivers ed experience. I’ve said this a lot in the last week – I wish we would’ve done this with your brother. Our parenting science fair project continues.

        • Joseph

          Older Siblings — We are the crash-test-dummy’s of parenting 😉
          (I’m an older brother myself haha)

          • KariBemidji

            Oldest child here, too.

    • Guest

      Yep, 10 and 2 is natural for me…..even tho I know better

      • Rob

        You’re doing it right – carry on!

    • Rob

      Don’t worry about breaking your thumbs/having your hands fly off the wheel if the airbag pops. If the bag pops, your car won’t be moving anymore, and a possible broken thumb will be the least of your worries. You have way more control of the wheel when your hands are at 10 andd 2; quicker avoidance response, and more range of steering wheel motion should an emergency arise.

  • MCH

    Anyone who has dealt with an aging parent who should no longer be driving would whole heartedly agree with this. I had to take the keys away from my Dad which was horrible–I don’t think he ever forgave me. And even though he knew he wasn’t supposed to he would sneak the keys from my Mom and drive downtown to the Post Office. Luckily it was a small town and people would rat him out. My father in law who is blind in one eye and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, was able to get his license renewed. That is not someone we needed on the road. Every one of my friends has a similar story.

    • jon

      My Grandfather is 92 this year… he lost his license because of a mild stroke 6-7 months back… and he is trying to get it back now that he has recovered… he doesn’t drive on highways, generally just a trip to the grocery store, pharmacy, or church for him even before the stroke, relying on my uncle to give him a ride to his doctors appointments, as they are to far, and might require getting on the highway…

      Part of me is rooting for my grandfather to get his license back, but a big part of me doesn’t want him to get any special treatment on the test (he had to take them regularly in IL to keep his license as he aged) because I don’t want him to be a danger to himself or others… but I still root for him… Glad I don’t have to the be one telling him he can’t drive, but get to be thrilled for him if it turns out he can still pass the test at 92…

      • John

        I will be on the roads. I don’t want your grandfather out there (or mine) where other people can be hurt if he’s not competent to drive.

        • jon

          My grandfather lives in a sane place… he has taken a road test annually for the past 5-6 years because they require retesting based on age that frequently in IL… (every 4 years for the decade prior to that.)

          He has proven himself a competent driver more frequently and more recently than most drivers in Minnesota.

          • John

            And as long as he continues to do so, I wish him the best behind the wheel.

            Here, there’s no continuing competency requirement. It’s frightening.

          • chlost

            Assuming that continuing competency is somehow a direct correlation to age is disingenuous. There are many folks out there who should not be driving, and their age is much lower than anyone’s grandfather. The worst drivers I see have cell phones in hand, among other things, and generally are much younger than that of a “senior citizen”. In fact, I would guess that relatively few seniors would attempt to drive with a cell phone

            If we institute continuing competency evaluations, then we should be doing them for everyone, across the board., regardless of age.

          • John

            Absolutely. Everyone should have to demonstrate competency periodically. I didn’t mean to imply that I wanted it only to happen after a certain age.

            Though, I might argue that after (insert magic age that I”m not sure of here), the competency check should be more frequent. Between ages 65 and 80, there is often a significant change in cognitive ability – much more so than between, say, age 25 and 40. That might be too subtle for a law though.

          • I’m 64 and I can tell you it takes a LOT more focus for me now when driving. A LOT more. I doublecheck, and sometimes triple check when turning or pulling out from an intersection. I’m completely mindful of just how much data the brain has to process for the simple task of driving.

            We don’t understand that until we get to be a certain age. So, yeah, the change is cognitive ability is real.

          • chucker1

            Im feeling this at 48……

        • My ex-wife’s grandfather died that way.

          He got confused behind the wheel, went down the wrong side of the road and plowed head-on into oncoming traffic. He died and in the process killed a 30 year old nurse.

          :/

  • Mike Worcester

    I took my driver’s ed 30+ years ago and we were taught flashing yellow = yield to oncoming traffic. I presume this has not changed since Ronald Reagan was in his first term?

    Side note — the growth of roundabouts is a good reason why retesting might also be a good idea. And I know, let’s not get started on those, shall we? 🙂

  • I just renewed my license and I was surprised I didn’t have to take an exam. I downloaded the manual anyway and studied it because it just made sense to renew my understanding of how things are supposed to work. I will say I don’t think all the roundabouts are easy for anyone and especially newcomers to town to navigate and I think people who are texting while driving should have really dire sanctions. So dangerous.

  • Gary F

    Sure, everyone could take a driver’s test. That doesn’t mean they still won’t have a cell phone attached to their ear.

    • Brian Simon

      Different problem, which could also be addressed with periodic tests. Come to think of it, do we require hands free yet? I forgot whether that went into effect.

  • MrE85

    I don’t see the point of the lashing yellow arrows. If the green arrow was lit, I had the right of way to turn. If it wasn’t, the other cars had the right of way, and I should turn only when I could do so safely. How hard was that to understand?

    • jon

      Apparently really hard…
      Then again so is a flashing yellow it seems…

      There is no winning when some people simply refuse to acknowledge the rules of the road…

    • chaos750

      Not hard, but too many people couldn’t get through their heads that they had a green light but had to yield. They felt like since they had a green light that they were entitled to go, and would take risks to do so. The flashing yellow more clearly conveys that left turns are a lower priority than oncoming traffic, and that if you want to turn you have to wait.

      • Mike

        Now people apparently don’t understand the flashing yellow arrows either. This is what happens you when you try to accommodate stupidity. It makes everything more complicated, and you still haven’t solved the problem.

        • Jack Ungerleider

          Old IT proverb: If you make something idiot proof, they’ll build a better idiot.

          • Guest

            “Nothing is foolproof because fools are so ingenious”

          • Jack Ungerleider

            I believe that is the generic corollary. 8^)

          • John

            I heard somewhere that Russia uses the term “fool resistant” instead of idiot proof.

            I like their version better.

    • John

      It should be easy, but apparently it’s not.

      A flashing yellow is essentially equivalent to a “Left turn must yield to oncoming traffic” green light. The big improvement with them (that I have noticed) is that they can be controlled more effectively. At the intersection I travel through on my way to work in the morning, if I get in at my normal time (5:45-6:15 or so), there’s a flashing yellow. When I come in later – say at around 8:00, it’s a red arrow, and I have to wait for a protected green arrow to make the turn.

      It’s nice that rather than having to wait for a protected turn early in the morning, when there are few other cars on the road, I can use my judgement, but when conditions warrant it, the intersection is more tightly controlled.

    • boB from WA

      It was used to replace the controlled left turn (red arrow) which at odd hours of the day would keep you from turning left, even if there was no traffic. It also allows for traffic to flow more smoothly.

      Personally I love them, if only i don’t have to waste the fuel waiting for the red arrow to turn green.

    • l sims

      Yep. And what I really don’t like about the flashing yellow arrow is that it seems to beckon people to make that turn. The green light is not a flashing “go this way NOW” command like the yellow arrow seems to be.

      And honestly, at the one intersection where I’ve run into this, we’d all be safer with a red arrow to stop left turns and then a green arrow exclusively for the turning. It’s really putting too much burden on drivers to determine if that oncoming traffic is going too fast (ie, speeding) to safely complete the turn.

    • Midimagic

      The flashing yellow arrow was not introduced to prevent driver misunderstanding. It was invented to prevent the hidden danger of yellow trap.

      This is yellow trap:

      You are in the intersection at a green traffic light, waiting for oncoming traffic to clear so you can turn left. The light turns yellow. Is it safe to turn now?

      In many cases, no. It is quite possible that your light turned yellow, but the light for oncoming traffic is still green. If you make your turn expecting traffic to stop for a yellow, you get into a crash if their light is still green.

      Whenever you see the flashing yellow arrow flashing when the other signals facing you are red, you know the signal protected you from yellow trap. A circular green signal can’t provide this indication.

      Flashing yellow arrows also allow signal progression on more streets. This is where the signals turn green as you co0me to them.

  • chlost

    When there are new changes to laws, and new road configurations, perhaps it would be helpful to include an informational flyer to be inserted in the license renewal notice.
    Along the lines of: “DID YOU KNOW……. -Yellow flashing arrows means that you must yield to oncoming traffic. -Roundabouts reduce injuries and damage. -Yield to vehicles in the roundabout, but don’t stop if the roundabout is clear. ” etc. A refresher for those who do know, and a lesson for those who do not.

  • AL287

    I first encountered roundabouts when I was living in Maryland. They definitely took some getting used to.

    There are now five of them in or near Forest Lake. They do keep traffic moving more smoothly. You do have to watch out for large SUV’s and trucks as a lot of them think the yield signs don’t apply to them. They will cut right in front of you with only a couple of feet to spare.

    I’m with Mr. E85 on the flashing yellow turn arrow. I’ve had enough close calls with people running red lights that I really don’t see the point of having flashing yellow arrows.

    • Jeff

      I don’t like that they dummied-down the roundabout at Lake and Broadway from two lanes to a single lane. It can back up quite a bit. It was the first one and now that we’re all acclimated we should be able to handle two lanes.

      • Veronica

        My guess is that they’ve realized that having one lane through the roundabout is the safest design for pedestrians and bikers, and I’m cool with that.

  • >>“In my experience, if a signal is flashing, that means everybody has to stop, and then you take turns<<

    You're thinking of RED flashing lights…and probably don’t belong behind the wheel.

    • Barton

      THIS.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    I will say this about the flashing yellow arrows, there are some intersections that have a green plus green arrow in the on coming direction. Your lights are red and a yellow flashing arrow which is just a little weird cognitively until you figure out what’s going on.

    • Brian Simon

      That combination irritates the hell out of me. When I’m presented with green and a green turn arrow, the expectation is that the traffic I’m with has the right of way in the whole intersection. To grant traffic turning across our path the flashing yellow option is dangerous.

      • jon

        Do you not think you have the right of way when you have the green?

        What do you think the flashing yellow arrow means?

        • Brian Simon

          I think you misunderstood me. If I am presented green & green arrow, I do not expect that oncoming traffic can turn across my direction of travel – I expect oncoming traffic to have a red and red arrow.

          • John

            they can have a yellow arrow – where they have to yield to you. You still have right of way.

          • Brian Simon

            Drivers being drivers, do you think people tend to wait until it’s safe, or try to squeeze through tighter gaps than they should?

          • John

            Immaterial – we’re talking about what’s legal. People making bad decisions is a different topic all together.

            (they’ll squeeze through, because nearly everyone thinks their thing that they’re late for is more important than your/their safety)

          • Brian Simon

            I’m not disputing the legality, I’m saying it’s a dangerous combination. You are entitled to disagree.

          • jon

            The dangerous combination here is putting more than one driver on the same road/intersection… regardless of what the light does… Idiots will run the red light too… but no one blames the lights for that, they blame the idiot who went against the signal…

          • Midimagic

            The green arrow does not change your permissions and restrictions when going straight on circular green.

    • Where are these intersections, because that doesn’t seem correct (or safe).

      • John

        I’ve seen those – where one direction has full right of way, and the signal gives the opposite direction a flashing yellow at the same time.

        It is correct, and safe if the folks with the flashing yellow follow the rules and yield to oncoming traffic. If they don’t, well . . .

      • Brian Simon

        Normandale boulevard & 94th street is one. I’ve seen it elsewhere too.

      • Jack Ungerleider

        The one I drive by everyday is Como and Raymond. I take Como from Snelling over to NE Mpls for work. I have seen it going in both directions on Como. As you approach there is a red light and a red arrow. (Green on Raymond) All of a sudden the arrow goes to a flashing yellow while the main light stays red. Then a short time later the light turns green.

      • Midimagic

        This is the correct display. If it shows red and red arrow, yellow trap can happen.

    • Midimagic

      That is the case where the signal is protecting you from yellow trap by allowing the turn to continue even though the circular signals changed to red.

  • Postal Customer

    Whilst we’re at it, let’s remind Minnesotans how all-way stops work, and how merging onto the freeway at 20 mph is deadly.

    • Al

      That would be amazing. And also dream on.

    • kevins

      Especially the folks that skipped “Turn Taking 101” in preschool.

  • Rob

    As a pre-geezer, I’m in favor of driving tests for seniors – actual driving, not just written tests. Perception, comprehension, reaction time and range of head motion would all be tested every four-five years, starting at age 65.

  • Brian Simon

    A little refresher on the rules for sharing roads with bikes would do some good too.

    • 3m_t@3

      Goes both ways.

      • Brian Simon

        That took longer than expected…

        • I’m surprised this hasn’t already turned into a “bike hater” thread.

        • Well, you kinda helped it along a little bit, so not real surprising.

          • Brian Simon

            I expected the response in minutes, not hours.

  • Jeff

    I appreciate the ignorant. I always Zipper Merge and the less people the better as I zip by.

  • 212944

    I will take the unpopular stance of HOW ABOUT SOME ACTUAL ENFORCEMENT!

    Clearly, we (the collective “we” … not the fair and intelligent readers of the NewsCut Blog) simply cannot be bothered to abide by the laws. So, unless there are some carrots available, it is time for sticks.

    I drive across the metro daily. Traffic enforcement is very, very rare out there. Interstates, highways, city streets included.

    • Midimagic

      What does this have to do with the flashing yellow arrow? It is not there to aid driver understanding. It is there to prevent the hazard known as yellow trap. The signal can play a trick on drivers when left turns are allowed on circular greens.

      Yellow trap happens when the signals turn yellow in one direction on the street, but stay green in the other direction. The driver seeing the circular yellow does not know the oncoming traffic still has a green. Crash.

      The flashing yellow arrow prevents this. It will keep flashing while the circular signals change to yellow and red. It wont stop flashing until the oncoming signal changes from green to yellow, when it is replaced with a steady yellow arrow.

      • 212944

        People pay attention and abide by rules when rules are actually enforced.

        Lax enforcement contributes greatly to unsafe driving habits and unsafe roadways.

  • emersonpie

    There are not two sets of roads, one for experienced metro drivers and another for less experienced or out-of-state drivers. (Yes, they should familiarize themselves with the new state’s laws, but how many do?) Back when I encountered my first yellow arrow, I was reading the Strib daily, listening to MPR daily, and also read my local weekly paper. I somehow missed hearing about it and was glad there was a sign. I’m all for testing for license renewal, but as the responses on this thread indicate, there is a need for more education/reminders of the rules of the road that goes beyond once every four years. Drivers’ ed and safety PSAs on all media could make us all safer.

  • My wife and I take the 4 hour geezer driver refresher course for an insurance discount every few years. It covers all of the stuff you need to know, including anything “new” like roundabouts and flashing arrows. You can do it all online (which I’ve done), but it’s really okay in a classroom, which is typically more of a get-it-out-of-the-way-in-one-sitting experience. AAA offers them, as does the MN Highway Safety & Research Center 55+ program and the MN Safety Council. (You’re eligible if you’re 55 or older.)

    The course covers things to look out for, like diminished vision, longer reaction times, difficulty turning your head to look back, and so on. One reason I like the classroom version is that you really see what you’re up against out there because no matter what you always seem to encounter drivers who are even older than you are. You also get a sense of “holy sh**, that guy is still on the road” kinda thing. And that can be a good thing, since they also have the “taking the keys away and when to quit driving” conversations.

    As others have noted, age alone is no indicator of driving competency. All of us have seen people making poor decisions, no matter what their age. I remember a licensed pilot from Mabel, MN who was still passing his medicals well into his 80’s. But he did have to prove his ability – and that’s something that any of us piloting a couple of tons of vehicle down the roadway should be able to do.

  • Midimagic

    It doesn’t help if the test questions are confusing. I have repeatedly seen this question on tests:

    You are approaching a green traffic signal when a policeman signals you to stop. You would obey the signal. []T []F.

    Which signal????? There are two.

    Also a stop is required only if a red signal is flashing.

    Flashing yellow means caution (and yield if turning).

    The politicians don’t want to spend the money on the signs.

    Because there are still two states that do not allow any flashing yellow arrows, the signs are still necessary for drivers from those states.

    Maryland prohibited flashing yellow arrow in favor of flashing red arrow.

    West Virginia has never voted on allowing them.

    • Huh. People were confused by that question?

  • OakdaleMom

    I’ve got an idea Bob. Why don’t you bring your driver’s license renewal idea forward? Contact your legislators, write letters, make phone calls, give speeches, give interviews, get in the paper, etc.? You know, actually do something productive instead of sitting behind your comfy computer making snide comments. Cindy Tregilgas put herself out there to accomplish something positive by getting MnDOT to put up the Flashing Yellow Arrow signs, after she had two close calls. In return, she gets attacked by the likes of you, who would rather criticize than accomplish anything?! I happen to agree with her and I am grateful to her. I can only imagine how many accidents those signs prevented. Even with the signs, I still see people get confused at these signals.

    Did you even read the whole article? You seem to have missed the main point: Washington County should comply with the state guidelines and put the FYA signs next to the signal instead of in the median where no one sees them. Just a few days ago, someone made a left turn right in front of me at one of these signals (one where the FYA sign in the median is blocked by a Do Not Enter sign – stupid place to put it), so clearly there is still a lot of confusion out there.

    Part of a journalist’s job is to get their facts straight, stick to the subject and not devolve into personal attacks. I think you need some re-training in that regard. I thought MPR was better than this.

    BTW, Washington County only complied with the state guidelines for a COUPLE of years (not eight years) before they started foolishly putting the FYA signs in the median. Get your facts straight. As far as your claim that “If kids who are new to driving know the rules of the road, why don’t people who have more experience?” here’s another fact: the accident at a Flashing Yellow Arrow signal in Dakota County (where there are no signs) was with a new driver. He got confused and his friend got killed. So much for knowing the rules of the road – and remembering them in a stressful situation. That’s where the signs come in – as a reminder when you have to make a quick decision, no matter what your experience level is or how recently you took your driving test. There are many other signs that state the rules of the road and are there as reminders for safety reasons (e.g. the No Passing Zone sign, which is in addition to the Do Not Pass sign, which is in addition to the solid yellow line, which is in addition to the approaching hill or curve), so why the resistance to this one?

    It’ll never happen of course, but maybe bloggers should have to take a test every few years to prove they belong on the internet. We require that for pilots, why not bloggers? There’s no reason we can’t require them to know – and prove they know – how to write an accurate post before they’re allowed to be published.

    • If someone turned in front of you on a flashing yellow light, my belief is they should not be on the road and remedial action is required.

      That’s my observation and every day Minnesotans prove it to be a completely defensible one of obvious accuracy.

      It would be swell if it weren’t.

      I doubt very much we’re in any substantial disagreement.

      • OakdaleMom

        We are in very substantial disagreement. Please re-read my comment. Your reply makes absolutely no sense.

        • OK, well, thanks. I’m not planning on apologizing for wanting drivers off the road who don’t know the rules of the road. They’re dangerous to those who do and should enjoy no entitlement at all.

          I’m not investing any time to be persuaded that they do.

          So if that puts me on the side of traffic engineers — it does — then I’m fine with that.

          • OakdaleMom

            I’m not trying to persuade you to do anything – except to get the point of the article (signs should be next to the signal instead of in the median) and to get your facts straight.

            If you want something done on your idea of driver’s license renewal, then put in the work to try to make it happen, instead of criticizing someone else. Work for positive change instead of being negative.

          • I’ve read the article. You’ve not provided any list of facts that are incorrect. I get it: You want the signs moved. We all get it. But I’m with the traffic engineer in Mary’s story.

            People should know these things by now and the good drivers on the road have proven they do. The ones who don’t, shouldn’t be on the road until they do.

            There are signs in Woodbury to tell these people what to do at the flashing yellow arrow even though there aren’t flashing yellow arrows at that intersection. It’s insane. Absolutely insane.

            I respect your tutorial on journalism you earlier described but it would be improper to engage in an active political process. That’s just the way it is. I didn’t invent the policies. I don’t make the rules.

            Thank you for your perspective.

          • OakdaleMom

            Did you even read my first comment? I gave you two facts that are incorrect: that Washington County only complied with the MnDOT guidelines for a couple of years, not eight (or ten); and that kids who are new to driving know the rules of the road – the fatal accident in Dakota County proves that premise wrong. My comments on journalism related to fact-checking.

            Furthermore, maybe in an ideal world people everyone would be a perfect driver, know all the rules instantly and never break any of them. But that’s not reality. If it were, there would be no accidents. Therefore, having a basic sign that people can actually see is helpful in reducing confusion, preventing accidents and improving safety.

            I have never seen a FYA sign in Woodbury or anywhere else that is not at a FYA signal. If you have spotted that, then you should alert the Woodbury DOT. Again, take positive action instead writing negative comments.

          • // I gave you two facts that are incorrect: that Washington County only complied with the MnDOT guidelines for a couple of years, not eight (or ten);

            I never said anything about a couple of years.

            // and that kids who are new to driving know the rules of the road – the fatal accident in Dakota County proves that premise wrong.

            Your assertion that a fatality that happened three years ago proves that kids who are new to the road don’t know what a flashing yellow is it’s inaccurate for the obvious reasons. It is far, far more likely that young drivers know what a flashing yellow means than established drivers because they are taught it and are required to take a road test, unlike older drivers.

            //I have never seen a FYA sign in Woodbury or anywhere else that is not at a FYA signal.

            Drive south on Radio Drive. Take a peek to your left as you approach the intersection. There’s no flashing yellow at the site.

            // then you should alert the Woodbury DOT

            There is no Woodbury DOT. Radio Drive is a county road.

            Summarizing: Getting bad drivers off the road doesn’t require a perfect world. It requires an end to the idea that people have a right to drive and are immune to testing to prove they know what they’re doing.

          • OakdaleMom

            OMG. Bob, it’s clear to me that you are not really reading what I’m writing before you respond.

            1) In your original post you mentioned that it had been eight years, when in fact Washington County only complied with the state guidelines for a couple of years.

            2) I didn’t say that the fatal accident proves anything. I’m saying that your assertion that kids who are new to driving know the rules of road is proved wrong by the fatal accident in Dakota County that was caused by a new driver. There are no absolutes and you don’t really know what is more likely and what isn’t. Some new drivers will know what a flashing yellow arrow means, some won’t. Some experienced drivers will know what it means, some won’t. Even if someone knows what it means in a test, they may not remember it fast enough when they are in traffic. That’s why the signs are helpful.

            3) If you see an intersection with a FYA sign and no FYA signal (which I have never seen), then alert the appropriate authorities. If it’s a state highway, contact MnDOT. If it’s a county road, then contact the county. If it’s a city street, contact the city (another fact: yes, there is a Woodbury Public Works Dept: 651-714-3720).

            I’m not saying that re-testing drivers is a bad idea. (Again, if you believe in that, then work on it in a positive way instead of writing negative comments – and I’m sure there are things even a journalist can do that are not against the rules.) I’m saying that it is NOT the point of the article. I have yet to see you write anything about the fact that the signs are in the median instead of next to the signals, which was the main point of the whole article.

            Summarizing: Putting the signs in the median is ridiculous because they are hard to see and do not serve the purpose for which they were intended. Washington County should comply with the MnDOT guidelines and put the FYA signs next to the signals where they can be seen.

          • // I didn’t say that the fatal accident proves anything

            This is what you said in a previous comment:

            “that kids who are new to driving know the rules of the road – the fatal accident in Dakota County proves that premise wrong

            Now read your sentence in the abov e comment again:

            I didn’t say that the fatal accident proves anything. I’m saying that your assertion that kids who are new to driving know the rules of road is proved wrong by the fatal accident in Dakota County that was caused by a new driver.

            You literally just said you didn’t say the fatal accident proves anything and followed it up by saying the fatal accident proves something. I don’t know how anybody is expected to provide a satisfactory response to you on something like that.

            / it’s clear to me that you are not really reading what I’m writing before you respond.

            Based on the above, I think the problem is that I am. Maybe it’s time we just move on.

            // Summarizing: Putting the signs in the median is ridiculous because they are hard to see and do not serve the purpose for which they were intended. Washington County should comply with the MnDOT guidelines and put the FYA signs next to the signals where they can be seen.

            I found a couple more county intersections. The one at Bielenberg Drive and Valley Creeek where the sign is in the median is perfectly placed, imho. For one thing, it’s at eye level, requiring little eye movement, and if your eyes are on the road as they should be, they’re impossible to miss. It’s also tremendously visible . AND it’s a message to every driver who drives by OR turns when the flashing yellow is NOT activated get free instruction what the flashing yellow light means.

            There’s also a flashing yellow at Valley Creek and Tower. Sign is in the median.

            Bielenberg and Currell Blvd. Sign is on the stantion.

            Based on the pattern, I assume WashCo hasn’t yet programmed the flashing yellow at Valley Creek and Radio Drive. I think it’s a mistake. There are two turn lanes there and you can’t see oncoming traffic from the outermost lanes.

            // s, which was the main point of the whole article.

            Good for you and the Pioneer Press . I used the article as a jumping off point for the observation that there are too many people who don’t know what they’re doing on the road. I said that in the lede.

            In Mary’s article, you described your confusion at a flashing yellow area and described an incorrect message. So it’s disingenuous in the extreme to assert that there is no component of her article having to do with people not knowing what they’re doing and needing instruction regardless of whether a sign is on the media or the light stanchion. Your entire argument for placement of the signs is built on a foundation that there are drivers who don’t know what to do when faced the similar situation that confused you.

            I agree with you. They don’t know what they’re doing.

            And they shouldn’t be on the road in the first place.

          • OakdaleMom

            I’m not saying that all new drivers don’t know the rules of the road just because one made a mistake that resulted in a fatal accident. What I am saying is that your assertion that kids who are new to driving know the rules of road is proved wrong by the fatal accident in Dakota County that was caused by a new driver. Clearly, at least one new driver didn’t know. A few friends of mine with new drivers have also said that their child gets confused at these signals.

            Again, there are no absolutes. Some new drivers will know what it means, some won’t. Some experienced drivers will know, some won’t. Even if someone knows what it means in a test, they may not remember it fast enough when they are in traffic. That’s why the signs are helpful.

            Thank you for finally (kind of) addressing the point of the article. I am not in Mary’s article, but I do agree that the signs should be next to the signal instead of in the median. I have contacted Washington County about this myself, so I was glad to see that someone else cares about this too. I agree with you that there should not be a FYA signal at Valley Creek and Radio, due to the two turn lanes. In fact, I have noticed that at that signal, the FYA sign in the median is behind the double-left turn sign! Please contact Wayne Sandberg at Washington County to voice your concerns. Wayne.Sandberg@co.washington.mn.us

          • // now the rules of road is proved wrong by the fatal accident in Dakota County that was caused by a new driver.

            I know what you’re saying. I’m saying your wrong and it proves no such thing unless I wrote ALL kids, which I didn’t. But as a matter of logic, it’s reasonable to assume that people who are road tested know more about the rules of the road than people who are not, #`1. #2, that accident happened three years ago. That’s a long time to prove anything about the right now.

            If I get around to contacting Washington County, my first priority to raise a ruckus about Radio Drive and the police station intersection. 12:30 in the morning, no traffic. I had to sit for a full cycle of lights. Now THAT’S ridiculous.

          • OakdaleMom

            Do you mean “you’re wrong” (not “your wrong”)? I don’t believe I am wrong, and I did NOT write “now the rules of road is proved wrong by the fatal accident in Dakota County that was caused by a new driver.” Again, do you even really read before you whip off a reply? That is not what I wrote; please re-read my comments.

            One more time: some new drivers will know what it means, some won’t. Some experienced drivers will know, some won’t. Even if someone knows what it means in a test, they may not remember it fast enough when they are in traffic. That’s why the signs are helpful.

            Maybe if you spent less time criticizing others, you would have more time to get around to contacting Washington County and working on positive change.

          • // What I am saying is that your assertion that kids who are new to driving know the rules of road is proved wrong by the fatal accident in Dakota County that was caused by a new driver.

            That’s what you wrote, right before saying:

            // “I didn’t say that the fatal accident proves anything. ”

            Which is it?

            // they may not remember it fast enough when they are in traffic.

            They either know what it means or they don’t. If they’re confused, doesn’t a yellow light mean “caution”? If they don’t have time to remember something, shouldn’t the fact it’s YELLOW tell them they should be particularly cautious? And if they’re particular cautious, wouldn’t that allow time to search their memory banks to answer the question: “what should I do here?”

            If their response is, “I just can’t remember what to do so I’ll just charge through the intersection in front of this oncoming driver”, then they shouldn’t be on the road. Period.

            Yeah, we all got your “positive change” thing. But I’ve watched too much carnage on the road over the years to extend niceties to the incompetent fools who are too irresponsible to be entrusted with a machine that is killing people on a nightly basis.

          • OakdaleMom

            Here’s what it is AGAIN: some new drivers will know what the flashing yellow arrow means, some won’t. Some experienced drivers will know, some won’t. Even if someone knows what it means in a test, they may not remember it fast enough when they are in traffic. That’s why the signs are helpful.

            If you don’t like something, work to change it. Writing critical comments about “incompetent fools” doesn’t help change anything.

          • Really? I wrote about too many signs on the road in Woodbury a few years ago.

            You know who read it? Yep, the transportation engineers.

            Boom. Fewer signs.

            https://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2014/06/have-we-reached-peak-traffic-sign/

            And, yes, I’m critical of drunks who drive, texting drivers, drivers on their cellphones, drivers who don’t pay attention, and drivers who don’t know what they’re doing on the road. You’ll grow old waiting for an apology from me.

          • OakdaleMom

            I’m glad to hear you think you helped with some kind of positive change. Now, if you’re critical of the other things you mentioned, then work to change them. Writing disparaging comments is not going to change drunk drivers, texting drivers, etc. It might make you feel better, but it doesn’t really accomplish anything.

            You don’t need to apologize for making people feel uncomfortable, but you do need to apologize for not getting your facts straight, getting way off topic and devolving into personal attacks on someone who is also trying to effect positive change.

            As I wrote in my first comment, I thought MPR was better than this.

          • I did help. And I also helped on this issue too, assuming that there were people who didn’t know what a flashing yellow means.

            // It might make you feel better, but it doesn’t really accomplish anything.

            That’s a mere guess on your part. Little more. Maybe someone has been motivated to take the keys away from grandpa. Maybe someone who didn’t have a clue what a flashing yellow arrow means before reading NewsCut now knows what it means. Maybe. Maybe not.

            // for not getting your facts straight

            as I’ve already mentioned, now, at least three times, the facts as stated were and are correct. Your recitation of things I wrote, as indicated earlier, were absolutely INcorrect,.

            It seems clear you’re looking for someone to merely confirm and amplify what you believe and I’m sorry for your disappointment. I really am. But my job isn’t to validate what you believe.

            But you got your opportunity to have your voice heard, and that’s to the good.

          • OakdaleMom

            Maybe you helped, maybe not. That’s a mere guess on your part. Little more. I daresay getting MnDOT to put up signs where people can see them has done much more to educate people about the flashing yellow arrow than your little blog post. Plus, the whole premise of your original post wasn’t about educating people; it was a rant about driver’s license renewals. I still haven’t seen where you’ve done anything to work on accomplishing that.

            Your “facts” were INcorrect, as I have outlined above numerous times. You also attempted to misquote me a number of times, which I also corrected above.

            Unlike you, I am not looking for someone to merely confirm and amplify what I believe. I am looking for someone who blogs for MPR to get their facts straight, stick to the subject, and not devolve into personal attacks.

            I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed spending so much time on this exchange, but I did enjoy rebutting your ridiculous blog post.

          • Well thank you for stopping by and calmly stating your point of view. I appreciate it.

          • OakdaleMom

            You’re welcome.