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What to do when you see a blinking yellow turn arrow in Virginia

By John Singleton on July 20, 2022

When you’re getting ready to turn left at an intersection with a traffic light, you may have noticed a blinking yellow arrow with a sign next to it that says, “Left Turn Yield on Flashing Yellow Arrow.” The flashing yellow arrow is becoming more common at Virginia intersections. If you see one, it means you can turn left as soon as oncoming traffic is clear and no one is in the crosswalk.

However, until we all get accustomed to the flashing yellow arrow, use extreme caution. Too many drivers still think the yellow arrow means they have the right of way, and they turn directly into the path of oncoming traffic.

Another related problem is a driver making a U-turn on a flashing yellow arrow, while a driver to the left is making a right turn on red. Yes, I know that is difficult to see in your head, but in many instances, the driver making the U-turn has to yield to the driver making a right turn on red.

Q:  What do blinking yellow turning arrows do?

Intersections cause traffic congestion, and they are a hazardous place for drivers and passengers. In fact, about 40 percent of automobile accidents happen at intersections, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Research shows that installing the flashing yellow arrow reduces traffic congestion and decreases accidents. That’s why the arrows have been approved for widespread use by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

The flashing yellow arrow simply means drivers must yield to pedestrians and oncoming traffic before turning. If there is no opposing traffic, bicycles, or pedestrians in the crosswalk, you do NOT need to stop. And if you see a green arrow, you can proceed as normal.

Intersections with flashing yellow arrows provide the following benefits:

  • Reduce crashes by 25 percent
  • Reduce driver time waiting at intersections
  • Improv traffic flow
  • Reduce driver errors

Flashing yellow arrows:  Coming to an intersection near you

Adding traffic lights with flashing yellow arrows is a low-cost measure that reduces traffic collisions and saves drivers time. VDOT is rolling out more traffic signals with flashing yellow arrows at intersections throughout the Commonwealth.

However, these new intersection lights won’t be installed everywhere, only at “ideal locations.” VDOT engineers will study the following factors to determine if a flashing yellow light is the right solution for an intersection:

  • Sight lines
  • Crash history
  • Number of vehicles turning left
  • Amount and speed of oncoming traffic
  • Number of lanes vehicles must cross while turning

Were you hurt by a careless driver?

You shouldn’t have to pay your own medical bills if you or your loved one was harmed by another person’s negligent behavior. At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, we consider it a calling to help our neighbors get the money they need to put their lives back together after an accident.   We bring you decades of experience helping numerous other neighbors like you.

We work on a contingency basis; that means we only get paid when you get paid. Call (804) 413-6777 today, and we’ll be happy to meet with you for free to discuss your best options.  If we take your case, we will offer you our popular Zero Fee Guarantee.

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