Community News

Flashing Yellow Arrow at Select Intersections in Irvine

by: Irvine PIO
Posted: January 14, 2019


IRVINE...The City of Irvine is implementing a new type of traffic signal this month that increases the efficiency of left turns and improves traffic flow. The Protected-Permissive Left Turn or Flashing Yellow Arrow is a new type of display that accommodates left turns at select signalized intersections.

How To Use A Flashing Yellow Left-Turn Arrow...

A flashing yellow arrow does not provide a protected left turn for you. When the flashing yellow arrow is on, there may be oncoming traffic or pedestrians in the crosswalk on your left.  You will need to determine when it is safe to make the left and will need to yield to opposing traffic and to pedestrians in the crosswalk. The flashing yellow arrow will appear after a solid green arrow and before a solid yellow arrow.  When the solid yellow arrow comes on, it is letting you know that the signal is about to turn red and you should prepare to stop. 

Why The Change?

This new signal indication is used successfully around the country and is starting to be used by many jurisdictions in California. Flashing yellow arrows can keep traffic moving more efficiently by providing more opportunities for left turns to occur. At intersections that previously went from green arrow to solid yellow, drivers will have an additional phase for left-turning movements. This, in turn, reduces delay and can eliminate complaints agencies sometimes receive about frequently backed-up intersections. SACDOT believes this will improve the flow of traffic during off-peak commute hours by allowing drivers to make a left turn, when it is safe, without having to wait for a protected green light.

Remember when turning left, during the flashing yellow left-turn arrow, use caution after yielding to oncoming cars, bicycles and pedestrians.

A Quick Review of the Flashing Yellow Arrow



A solid red arrow means drivers turning left must STOP.


The solid yellow arrow warns the signal will be turning red and drivers should prepare to stop.


A flashing yellow arrow means left turns are permitted, but drivers must yield to oncoming cars, bicycles, and pedestrians and then proceed with caution.


A solid green arrow provides a protected left turn from oncoming traffic.


A Safer System vs Regular Permissive Signals

The Federal Highway Administration has found that up to 20% fewer crashes occur when flashing yellow arrows than the traditional permissive signal. They approved the widespread use of the flashing yellow arrow in 2006 and adopted it as the new standard for permissive left turns in 2009. At least 43 states are currently using them.

Flashing Yellow Arrow Conflict Points

​When you are turning left and see a flashing yellow arrow, the traffic coming towards you has a green light and pedestrians may have a "WALK" signal.  You must YIELD to these potential conflicts:

  • Oncoming through traffic and bicyclists
  • Oncoming right turn traffic
  • Pedestrians in the crosswalk

An Efficient System

Permissive operation will reduce delay for left turning vehicles as well as for all vehicles entering the intersection saving time and fuel. The new traffic signals provide traffic engineers with more options to handle variable traffic volumes including providing protected turns when needed and permissive when they are not.  SACDOT staff at the Traffic Operations Center can monitor the signals and adjust the timing for varying traffic volumes throughout the day.

Huntington Beach News 18582 Beach Blvd. #236 Huntington Beach, CA 92648 Ph. (657) 845-7475  Email:

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