Let’s face it: A lot of people are confused about flashing yellow lights or even just yellow lights in general. What’s the difference between a flashing yellow light and a yellow light that’s not flashing? Does a yellow light mean “speed up” or “slow down and come to a stop”? Here, we discuss the basics of flashing and non-flashing yellow lights in Texas and what they mean.
Breaking down what lights mean:
- A steady (non-flashing) yellow arrow means prepare to STOP.
- A flashing yellow arrow means left turns are allowed, but you must yield to oncoming traffic.
Why Are Drivers So Confused?
The problem is that one of the most dangerous things for drivers to do is turn left at an intersection in front of traffic. When a driver is turning left and there is oncoming traffic, the driver has to stop if their light is red and they have to yield or prepare to stop if it’s yellow. If their light is green and there are no arrows, again, they have to yield – it can get confusing! Because there is a wide variety of signals in the United States, it’s understandable why people would get confused.
When a driver approaches an intersection with a green arrow turn signal, they may not realize that a left turn is not only allowed, but protected. They may think it’s like a regular green light and that they have to yield to oncoming traffic when they actually have the right of way. Since this has been problematic, lawmakers did some research and discovered that flashing yellow signals are easier for people to understand than the traditional signals (without arrows) where people are expected to yield on green.
The Texas Department of Transportation believes that the new flashing yellow arrow signals are better and safer than traditional non-arrow signals and that they’ll make it easier for drivers to make left-hand turns. We hope they’re correct and Texas drivers catch on quickly!