Another country heard from on flashing yellow turn lights

The in basket: Jo Clark writes, “When you approach an intersection and need to turn left, if the (flashing) yellow arrow is showing, do you have to stop before you turn?

“I don’t think so but my Canadian relative was adamant, not wanting to earn a traffic ticket.

“I say that that impedes traffic flow and could cause a rear-ender. Please clarify Kitsap regs for me.”

The out basket: Jo is right and her Canadian relative is wrong.

“If there is no approaching traffic or there is significant distance between the two approaching vehicles where the turn can be made safely, then the driver conducting the left turn may execute the movement without having to first stop,” says Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for the county sheriff’s office.

Knowing that Scott is originally from Canada, I asked him if it’s possible the Canadian person might be correct up there.

“There are federal, provincial and municipal traffic code laws in effect in Canada, and there are 13 provinces,” he replied. “Confusing enough? It can be.”

So he checked only with British Columbia and forwarded the section of the BC drivers training manual dealing with traffic signals to me.

The manual makes no mention of flashing yellow arrows at all, but it does mention flashing yellows generally, saying they mean “slow down and proceed with caution.” That’s close to the phrasing in Washington state law regarding flashing yellows, which says they mean “drivers may proceed through the intersection or past such signal only with caution.”

So I don’t see any support for Jo’s Canadian relative’s belief at all.

Stopping at a yellow flashing light when you don’t have to certainly impedes traffic. I suppose it increases the risk of rear-end accidents, but only slightly, since you DO have to stop if there is oncoming traffic and anyone behind you has to be ready for that.

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