How should I turn left on a blinking yellow light?

Q: When turning left on a blinking yellow light, should one pull into the intersection? It seems like a blinking yellow should let at least one car through, but often cars will wait behind the line, negating the ability to move traffic through the intersection.

A: If you are at a flashing yellow light and are preparing to turn left, enter the intersection with caution. Drivers are allowed to turn left after yielding to all oncoming traffic and to any pedestrians in the crosswalk. Oncoming traffic has a green light. Drivers must wait for a safe gap in oncoming traffic before turning.

If a vehicle ahead of you is signaling for a left turn, slow down and prepare to stop.

If you are behind a vehicle making a left turn, do not enter the intersection in case the traffic light turns red as you might not be able to clear the intersection. This type of maneuver is against the law per Minnesota statue 169.15 IMPEDING TRAFFIC; INTERSECTION GRIDLOCK.

The intersection gridlock law applies specifically to entering an intersection (at a traffic control light) that you can’t cross because traffic is backed up through the intersection due to another red light, train, etc. Entering the intersection in this case is against the law. It happens in many cities and creates a lot of problems with the flow-of-traffic when one direction of traffic cannot continue on a green light because vehicles on the cross road are stopped and blocking the other lanes of traffic.

Send questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson – Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811 or neil.dickenson@state.mn.us.

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