ODOT Changes Left-Turn Arrows in Ohio

It may be a subtle change, but left-turn signals are changing for motorists in Ohio. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is in the process of updating 643 left-turn signals at nearly 400 intersections to comply with federal regulations.

Today, when you use a designated left-turn lane, the signal transitions from a green arrow to a yellow arrow, and then to a solid red circle. The new signal will transition from a green arrow to a yellow arrow and then to a red arrow. This doesn’t change the way you would drive through the intersection, as you still can’t turn on red arrows.

ODOT is making this change to maintain consistency with operations in other states and to follow new mandates from the Federal Highway Manual Uniform of Traffic Control Devices that require designated left-turn lane signals to have red arrows instead of red circles.

Since drivers expect consistency, this change will likely lead city and county governments around the state to change out the red circle lenses from their signals as well.

ODOT began installing the red arrows statewide in April as part of its annual systematic signal improvement program. Be on the lookout for the new red arrow, and see if you can spot when the signals in your community change.


  1. Jim Lintz says:

    How much is this going to cost?

    Have there been any studies that show that a red arrow will produce safer intersections?

    Was any sort of cost/benefit analysis done to justify this update program?

    • Kevin Miller says:

      All good questions Jim. ODOT is reporting the cost per arrow at about $25 of hardware with around 650 ODOT maintained signal heads to replace. They are doing the replacement as part of their annual maintenance program, so the cost is incremental. If cities and counties do the same, the cost will not be significantly different than standard maintenance. There were several studies done on a national level that showed the arrow was better understood by drivers than the red ball and there is money saved in Ohio because the “Left-turn on Arrow Only” signs are no longer needed. Thanks for the great questions.

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