Making Left Turn with Green Light and No Green Arrow

 

Is it legal to make a left turn at a green light with the green left turn light off when there is no oncoming traffic coming? Do I have to wait for the green left arrow to make my left turn? I always wondered about this. It would seem logical that I can make the left turn with the green light if there are no traffic signs stating otherwise.

If it aint red!

If it aint red!

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Frank DriveSmart55 37.322760, -79.511267

Somewhat depends…

on the State. There is a more recent practice of a left turn traffic signal that is actually lit in the pattern of an arrow, to turn to a flashing yellow and that indicates you can turn left. The yellow arrow will be flashing to indicate an increased need for caution. But this isn’t anything universal, yet! Personally I think you would be OK in most states if lights simply indicated green, and there wasn't anything specific to prohibit a left turn situation.

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John from PA

I think it's legal to turn

I think it's legal to turn left if the turn lane doesn't have it's own traffic light and/or that light is not red, assuming you've yielded to oncoming traffic.

It depends!

As said above, it depends on State and Provincial law. If there is no signage indicating there is a specific light for left turns at the intersection, you can generally turn left if there is no oncoming traffic ... oncoming traffic have the right of way.

MUTCD

Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices:
https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2009r1r2/pdf_index.htm
The MUTCD is the ultimate resource for traffic control devices on federal roads and highways. Any road that receives federal funding must be compliant with the MUTCD. Individual States often have their version of the MUTCD. State driver license manuals also explain the permissible movements for different traffic signals. All of this information is downloadable on the Web.
Mark

Thank you for the replies

Thank you everyone for the informed responses.

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John from PA wrote:

on the State. There is a more recent practice of a left turn traffic signal that is actually lit in the pattern of an arrow, to turn to a flashing yellow and that indicates you can turn left. The yellow arrow will be flashing to indicate an increased need for caution. But this isn’t anything universal, yet! Personally I think you would be OK in most states if lights simply indicated green, and there wasn't anything specific to prohibit a left turn situation.

Philadelphia has had the red, yellow, and green left arrows for some time now. Now as the state upgrades the traffic signals they are putting the all arrow lights up. They've done that this past year on a couple roads in my area. The addition of the yellow flashing arrow is new as well on these upgraded signals.

At one of these intersection I saw something a little troubling and I've been trying to catch it on film as I pass by ever since, so far I have not been successful. The traffic lights were all red, say east west, with one person heading west in the left turn lane. When the west traffic got the all green, plus left arrow, east was still all red EXCEPT the flashing yellow also came on. I would think when west got the left arrow the east arrow would stay red. Very odd.

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. 2 Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S, Nuvi 2689, 2 Nuvi 2460, Zumo 550, Zumo 450, Uniden R3 radar detector with GPS built in, includes RLC info. Uconnect 430N Garmin based, built into my Jeep. .

Legal Unless there is a red arrow or red light

I found copies of the NY State and CT driving manuals online. In those two states, it appears a turn is allowed unless there is a sign stating otherwise, or a red arrow in that lane, or a generic red light for all of the lanes. It is probably true for most states.

I know

where I live, and also in NY state, you can do left on red if it's one way to one way, except where posted "no turn on red."

In my younger years, I got a kick out of doing it in front of cops, when I have a passenger. They would often ask what I'm doing, as if I'm running a red light, and I was, and am, easily amused.

I would think that where there's a green arrow, there is also a red light, so you would wait for the arrow. Otherwise, why not simply have a red/yellow/green light....a pic would help.

Should be

The green-left-turn-arrow also means that the oncoming traffic has a red light. When you have just a green light, oncoming traffic also has a green and you must yield to oncoming traffic.

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When you are dead, you don’t know that you are dead. It is only difficult for the others. It is the same when you are stupid.

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Circular green light means you can proceed into the intersection in any legal direction. If there's no light or sign prohibiting the left turn, you can enter the intersection and turn left on the circular green.

It seems the left arrows are sometimes programmed to be off in the wee hours of the night. I guess that with the low traffic volume there's no need for the left arrow to filter the traffic.

Green means go

On a green light and a left turn, you do not have the right of way, but you do have the right to turn if there is no oncoming traffic.

In Maryland

In Maryland,
You can stop then turn if it is flashing red arrow. Proceed cautiously as intersections with this placement are normally with high occurrence of accidents.

Never seen a flashing red

Never seen a flashing red arrow. IL doesn't use 'em to my knowledge, and WI has flashing yellow arrows to indicate its permissible to turn.

I suppose that does make sense. A flashing red means stop, yield, then go in most cases.

should be okay

If there is no signage or red light prohibiting the turn, it should probably all right.

Yes, you can turn left with

Yes, you can turn left with a green ball, absent signage saying otherwise. You must yield to oncoming traffic, just as you would when making a left turn without a signal.

The MUTCD states that left green arrows are a protected turn ( you have the right of way but must still yield to pedestrians). The green ball allows a permissive turn.

Recent amendments to the current MUTCD recommend flashing yellow arrows for the permissive left turn . It essentially means the same thing but is supposed to emphasize yielding to traffic. LED lights that tolerate flashing longer than old light bulbs also make this more cost effective.

Personally, I understand and prefer the green ball over the flashing yellow arrow, which can be distracting over other flashing yellow alerts.

Flashing Red Arrows

zx1100e1 wrote:

Never seen a flashing red arrow. IL doesn't use 'em to my knowledge, and WI has flashing yellow arrows to indicate its permissible to turn.

I suppose that does make sense. A flashing red means stop, yield, then go in most cases.

The federal MUTCD was changed around 13 years ago to clarify a steady red arrow means stop and stay stopped, with no turn on red. Previously states were interpreting this differently, so the ambiguity was removed. State statues were supposed to be revised where necessary to indicate this. States must follow the standard MUTCD to receive highway funding, at least in theory.

In some places, a turn on red was desired, and the Flashing Red Arrow does allow turning when safe after a full stop, just like a Flashing Red Ball allows one to continue after a full stop, like a stop sign.

Finally caught my concern on video.

soberbyker wrote:
John from PA wrote:

on the State. There is a more recent practice of a left turn traffic signal that is actually lit in the pattern of an arrow, to turn to a flashing yellow and that indicates you can turn left. The yellow arrow will be flashing to indicate an increased need for caution. But this isn’t anything universal, yet! Personally I think you would be OK in most states if lights simply indicated green, and there wasn't anything specific to prohibit a left turn situation.

~snip~

At one of these intersection I saw something a little troubling and I've been trying to catch it on film as I pass by ever since, so far I have not been successful. The traffic lights were all red, say east west, with one person heading west in the left turn lane. When the west traffic got the all green, plus left arrow, east was still all red EXCEPT the flashing yellow also came on. I would think when west got the left arrow the east arrow would stay red. Very odd.

Finally caught my concern on video.

Before the new 'flashing yellow arrow' this intersection had a plain old green arrow dedicated signal, once the adjacent through traffic got the green the left turn lane would get a full red 'ball'. Now it gets a flashing yellow when the opposing traffic gets a green arrow and full green.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLm2YDEojtU

.

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. 2 Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S, Nuvi 2689, 2 Nuvi 2460, Zumo 550, Zumo 450, Uniden R3 radar detector with GPS built in, includes RLC info. Uconnect 430N Garmin based, built into my Jeep. .

Yes

Perfectly legal here in Amarillo. There is just a sign that warns you to be aware of oncoming traffic..

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Ed

Safe signal

soberbyker wrote:
soberbyker wrote:

Finally caught my concern on video.

Before the new 'flashing yellow arrow' this intersection had a plain old green arrow dedicated signal, once the adjacent through traffic got the green the left turn lane would get a full red 'ball'. Now it gets a flashing yellow when the opposing traffic gets a green arrow and full green.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLm2YDEojtU

This is normal and safe.
Oncoming traffic may proceed straight or turn left with a protected turn green arrow, which is why a red ball is facing the camera.

Traffic from camera direction may turn left with a permissive yellow flashing arrow when safe/clear of oncoming traffic that has a green light.

it must be the new normal

soberbyker wrote:

Finally caught my concern on video.

Before the new 'flashing yellow arrow' this intersection had a plain old green arrow dedicated signal, once the adjacent through traffic got the green the left turn lane would get a full red 'ball'. Now it gets a flashing yellow when the opposing traffic gets a green arrow and full green.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLm2YDEojtU

telecomdigest2 wrote:

This is normal and safe.
Oncoming traffic may proceed straight or turn left with a protected turn green arrow, which is why a red ball is facing the camera.

Traffic from camera direction may turn left with a permissive yellow flashing arrow when safe/clear of oncoming traffic that has a green light.

It must be the new normal because prior to this all traffic had a red when opposing traffic had a full and left turn green, once that green arrow went out then the two directions had a full green with a sign warning those wanting to turn left to use caution. In other words, this flashing yellow in my part of the world is new within the past 6 months or so for an all around protected left turn signal.

Example shown in these two photos, prior to the flashing yellow the camera would have been looking at this type set up and no one in the cameras direction would go u tile the opposing protected green arrow was finished.

https://i.postimg.cc/bv777srs/20220501-072727.jpg
https://i.postimg.cc/Px1gTTvK/20220501-072733.jpg

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. 2 Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S, Nuvi 2689, 2 Nuvi 2460, Zumo 550, Zumo 450, Uniden R3 radar detector with GPS built in, includes RLC info. Uconnect 430N Garmin based, built into my Jeep. .

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Mred44 wrote:

Perfectly legal here in Amarillo. There is just a sign that warns you to be aware of oncoming traffic..

When discussing yellow lights, due deference should be given to what Amarillo does!

Yes, if there is no red left

Yes, if there is no red left turn arrow. In TX there is a flashing yellow arrow when green in the opposing direction to indicate you can turn left if it is clear to do so. It typically also includes a red left arrow and green left arrow to more effectively direct when you can and can't turn, like when cross traffic has a green light.

Check with your local state police or patrol post

They will have the correct answer for you. Nobody knows state law better than these folks!

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With God, all things are possible. ——State motto of the Great State of Ohio

PD doesn't always know

maddog67 wrote:

They will have the correct answer for you. Nobody knows state law better than these folks!

Back in 2016, I was in W Phila, patiently waiting to get by a school bus, or, wait for it to proceed. It was blocking the street with no indicators whatsoever.

Someone blared their horn, and stupidly, I reacted by going.

I look in my rearview and "suddenly" the school bus is honking, and it has its reds on, and the person behind me didn't go.

I googled on my way home and found a school bus violation is a mandatory suspension.

My google search brought up all kinds of law firms offering their services.

I saw a state trooper parked in a Kohl's parking lot, so I approached and told him what happened.

He said to be careful, you don't know why that bus was taking so long, what if it were a disabled child? You should not have simply just gone because someone honked at you.

He said don't worry, you do not have a DL suspended for a school bus violation.

THAT IS INCORRECT!!

At any rate, it made me realize, the red lights are controlled by a human. It's not systematic. The human can turn on the red lights without notice. There should be yellow first, but it doesn't have to be the case depending on how swift the activation is.

This is exactly why imho a dash cam is a necessity today.