Understand the Flashing Yellow Arrow for Your License Test
The flashing yellow arrow signal means that are you allowed to turn in the direction of the arrow after yielding to all pedestrians in crosswalks and vehicles lawfully within the intersection.
When the flashing yellow arrow is pointing left to allow a left turn or U-turn, you must yield the right-of-way to vehicles approaching from the opposite direction if they are close enough to be an immediate hazard.
You must stop and wait until there is a safe gap.
Turning with the flashing yellow arrow is sometimes known as an “unprotected turn”. Unlike the green arrow (protected turn), traffic from the opposite direction is not stopped by a red light.
Why is the Flashing Yellow Arrow Used?
When you turn left on two-way roads, you should always use caution and look for oncoming traffic and crossing pedestrians. Many intersections will only have the traditional red-yellow-green traffic light with a yield-on-green sign.
Even if the procedure is the same as in an intersection with the yield-on-green sign, flashing yellow arrow signals have proved to help drivers make fewer mistakes when making left turns.
A national study demonstrated that drivers found flashing yellow left-turn arrows more understandable than just the yield-on-green sign. Drivers had fewer crashes when there were flashing yellow left-turn arrows compared to intersections with the traditional light configuration. The study also found that there are more opportunities to make a left turn with the flashing yellow left-turn arrow, resulting in less delays.
The Flashing Yellow Arrow is Approved for Use in All States
In 2009, the Federal Highway Administration authorized use of flashing yellow arrows nationwide. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, since they began implementing flashing yellow lights across the country, left turning car accidents have decreased by 25%.
You are very likely to see this new signal when engineers install new traffic lights at intersections, making the old yield-on-green sign less common.
Often, new signals with flashing yellow arrows have a regulatory black and white sign saying “Left Turn Yield on Flashing Yellow Arrow”.
When This Signal is Seen on DMV Tests
Not all states have added information about the flashing yellow arrow in their handbooks yet. But the information is likely to show up in a near future as the flashing yellow arrow becomes more common. It is good if you know the meaning of all traffic light signals before you get behind the wheel, even if your Driver Handbook doesn’t mention them.
Remember the following:
- Any flashing yellow signal means you must proceed with caution.
- A signal showing an arrow applies to turning traffic (you can only turn in the direction of the arrow)
- A flashing yellow arrow does NOT give you the right of way.
- A flashing yellow arrow means you may turn only after yielding to other vehicles and pedestrians. Go only when safe and clear.
What the Other Arrows Mean
|Solid green arrow: Protected turn. Oncoming traffic has a red light and you may turn carefully in the direction of the arrow. Remember that you must still yield to vehicles that have already entered the intersection.|
|Solid yellow arrow: The left-turn arrow is about to change to red. Stop if you can do so safely. If you are within the intersection and the way is clear, you should complete your turn. [Read more about solid yellow signals]|
|Solid red arrow: Drivers intending to turn must come to a full stop. Some states allow turning after stopping and yielding. Others don’t. See your Driver Handbook.|