Left turn yield on green

left turn.jpeg

Virginia drivers are not particularly bad, but there is one thing I’ve noticed that drives me just nuts: they seem to refuse to make a left turn on a green light (no green arrow), even when there is no opposing traffic; even when there is a sign above the light that says “Left turn yield on green.” What’s with that?

I learned to drive in L.A. In L.A. you creep out into the intersection in the left hand turn lane, until your car is completely in the intersection. If there is no opposing traffic, you make your turn. If there is traffic, you wait until the light changes and the traffic stops and then make your turn. In parts of New York, some people will make the left turn as soon as the light turns green, jumping ahead of the opposing traffic. (In New Jersey, there’s no such thing as a left turn.)

But in Virginia, the cars don’t creep into the intersection, they make no effort at turning when the traffic is clear. They just sit there until they have a green arrow. I suppose there is a certain safety in this, but it is almost like they don’t understand the sign that’s sitting right in front of them. It’s not really a big deal one way or the other, but it’s one thing about Virginia drivers that I’ve found to be generally consistent and generally annoying.


  1. That’s funny Jamie, because I’ve actually had the exact opposite experience. There are many times I’ve started to go straight through an intersection and had to slam on my breaks because of someone turning left in front of me. Only in courthouse…

    1. Wel, clearly they are idiots, and NOT yielding on the green light. I just get impatient when there is no opposing traffic and the car in front of me refuses to make the turn. It happens on Army-Navy Drive all the time.

  2. this is one of the things about Virginia drivers that has ALWAYS driven me nuts. ALWAYS. I’m from California, and between this and being physically incapable of merging… well, sheesh.

  3. Finally I thought I was going mad – I had to google this to make sure it wasnt just me getting infuriated by this lack-of-turning-left-on-green thing here in VA. Nowhere else in the world have I seen it, so I thought maybe theres some wierd VA law – wouldnt be surprising for VA. The second most annoying thing is the way the same driver looks annoyed or totally confused when you suggest (politely) that they can actually “go” when its green.


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