Does a Green Arrow Signal Give You the Right-of-Way?

DMV Test Question about Green Arrow Signal

You approach an intersection with a traffic control light and there is a green arrow signal in your lane. The green arrow points in the direction you wish to turn. Does the arrow give you the right-of-way?

  • A. Yes, all other traffic must yield.
  • B. No, you must still yield to vehicles and pedestrians lawfully in the intersection.

The correct answer is B.

Green Arrow Traffic Signal

What the Green Arrow Signal Means

The green arrow indicates a protected turn. When lighted, you may turn only in the direction of the arrow. Traffic coming from the opposite direction or traffic that could interfere with your turn is stopped by a red light.

When proceeding through the intersection, you must still use caution. If other vehicles or pedestrians have entered the intersection before your green arrow came on, wait until the intersection clears. By law, you must still yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully within a crosswalk and to other traffic lawfully using the intersection.

Pay special attention to vehicles from opposite direction that may turn right against the red light. While they must stop and yield before proceeding, they may not always be fully aware of left-turning vehicles and may not see you. Don’t insist on the right-of-way in this situation. It is better to slow down and let right-turning vehicles enter smoothly.

Green Arrow Together with Other Signals

The green arrow may be displayed by its own or together with other signals. If you see a green arrow together with a circular red signal, it means that you may turn in the direction of the arrow. Traffic going in any other direction is stopped by the circular red signal. The first time you see this combination, it may be a bit confusing. If you are in the correct lane, follow the green arrow signal.

When the green arrow is replaced by a solid yellow arrow, it means that the protected turning time is ending. You should be prepared to obey the next signal, which is not always the red arrow or a circular red signal. It may be a circular green signal.

Solid Yellow Arrow

You should come to a stop when solid yellow arrow is shown, unless you are too close to the intersection to stop safely. Watch carefully for oncoming traffic.

If you have stopped, don’t enter the intersection again until a circular green signal, green arrow, or flashing yellow arrow is shown – and it is safe to do so!

Note that oncoming traffic will no longer be stopped by a red light when the green signal or flashing yellow arrow comes on. This is known as an unprotected turn, and you must yield to all vehicles and pedestrians close enough to be a hazard.

Flashing Yellow Arrow

The flashing yellow arrow means you may turn in the direction of the arrow, but oncoming traffic is NOT stopped by a red light. Proceed carefully through the intersection and only when it is safe to do so.

Definition of Right-of-Way

The right-of-way in traffic is the right to move onto or across a road before other people or vehicles. You should remember that the law doesn’t give anyone the right-of-way. The law only states who must yield.

Even if other vehicles have the duty to yield to you, never insist on the “right-of-way”. It is better to give up the “right-of-way” whenever it may prevent an accident. Be courteous and patient. It makes the roads safer for everyone.


  1. I got caught in a “do not block” intersection when turning left, following a left arrow green light. Because 3 cars turned right on red, before me. Stuck in the intersection, facing a motorcycle patrolman. Sitting duck! I was ticketed for failing to obey stop light. I said “it was green when I entered the intersection”. I normally stop for yellow is what bothers me. I didn’t like being out there. It felt dangerous. The patrolman said I should have been able to predict the need to yield. I believe I am not clairvoyant. And if the intersection has a red,yellow,green light, it should also include a “no right on red” sign? Both directions traffic is coming from freeway exits. Anyone else think I should have “predicted” this? I wish I could have. I don’t feel totally at fault, and I wish I could so I felt better about paying this and moving on.

  2. This weekend I was involved in an accident. I was sitting at a red light. The light changed to a green arrow for me. No one was sitting across the road from me where they had a red light. As I proceeded to make the left turn a driver who did not see the red light ran the light and it me. My car is mostl likely totals due to air bag deploy and bent frame. Here is the problem… her insurance is blaming me also because I failed to see her coming and not stopping for the red light. I should not have proceeded and been more aware of my surroundings. What are your thoughts on the insurance company agent statements?

    • It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to press for at least “shared blame”. They won’t hesitate to blame you if it gives them an excuse to deny or reduce your compensation.

      There are always two versions to consider when it comes to these kinds of crashes. Meaning, the insurance agent may have a point – or he/she may not. I would suggest that you seek legal advice, depending on damages/injuries. They can tell you about the fault-sharing laws for your state.

  3. I was making a left turn at a red light with a green arrow and a truck turning right with a yield sign almost smashed me. Traffic both ways had a red light except the green arrow I had.
    Is it not his responsibility to yield as the sign states?

    • Basically, yes. But both drivers have an obligation to yield.

      In Georgia, the law says (for both green arrow and red signal): “Vehicular traffic shall yield the right of way to other traffic lawfully using the intersection”.

      Drivers facing the red signal may make a right turn but shall stop and remain stopped and yield the right of way to other traffic proceeding as directed by the signal at such intersection.

      In other words: the driver turning right and facing a red signal must stop and yield to all traffic close enough to constitute an immediate hazard and proceeding with a green signal. But if the driver turning right was already in the intersection, the driver turning with the green arrow must yield.

      Insurance companies often consider this a split-fault situation (shared fault).

      This answer assumes that the truck turned against a solid red signal, since there shouldn’t be a yield sign in place if the intersection is controlled by traffic lights.

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