Green Light vs Green Arrow While Driving – Perplexing

Green Light vs Green Arrow

Some new drivers ask this question and it’s about the green light vs green arrow. Both are beautiful green things found at intersections. So, what’s the difference? The answer is in where you go. Drivers facing the regular green light may generally proceed straight ahead or turn left or right; but drivers facing an arrow must follow the direction on the arrow only. Let’s drive into the details.

green light vs green arrow
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Green light –> go straight, left or right if otherwise allowed.
Green arrow –> no turn permitted; go straight through only.

Green Light Vs Green Arrow

Straight Green Arrow Means ‘Go Straight’ and do not turn left or right

If you are facing a regular green light, you are usually allowed to turn from your lane at the intersection. Right or left. Those are the usual options.

Of course, this is true unless there are turning restriction signs, which are normally very obvious. Read more about Canada road signs here on our blog.

turning restriction signs
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If you are facing a solid green arrow, it means “go straight only.” There are several other signs that often indicate to drivers the same instruction.

green light vs green arrow at intersections
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In this particular example below, if you were to turn left, you would then be driving the wrong way down the freeway, with nowhere to turn around.

So you can see how this is not just for fun; it’s pretty serious, the whole green light vs green arrow thing. It’s supposed to help – not confuse – us drivers. But I understand people who are just first learning how to drive might not get what this is all about.

Green Arrows With Turning Restriction Sign

I suppose “do not turn left” is another way of saying “go straight only.” It’s just that it’s so important, we need multiple signs and traffic control devices to make sure all drivers understand.

green arrows intersection
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“Proceed straight” arrows & “Do not turn left” sign

Where Are You Going?

When you are planning a turn at an intersection, it’s a great and necessary habit to check out the road where you’ll be turning. You must do this before you turn; not at the same time, when it’s too late. In other words, do you know where are you going?

This can be extra helpful and many times you’ll see it’s obvious that you must go straight. But at night, and during times when visibility is reduced, it may not be that obvious.

That’s where the green arrow comes in handy. You should always be able to see a green arrow, even in the rain. Sometimes old rusty and moldy signs are hard to see. But if that’s the case, someone needs to alert city hall so they can get on it.

do not enter signs at intersections
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“Do not enter” Signs

Always check carefully for intersection signs

turning restriction signs
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“Do not enter” sign, “proceed straight only” arrow, “do not turn left” sign

This is just one example but at this intersection in North Vancouver, there are actually 5 signs that indicate to not turn left, or “do not enter,” plus the straight-only arrows. That’s a lot, but it is necessary here so that people don’t end up driving the wrong way on the freeway.

Carmen Cohoe

Carmen became a driving instructor in beautiful North Vancouver at the age of 22 due to some crazy people who agreed to hire her. After that, there was never a dull moment teaching many different folks from many different places how to drive using automatic and standard vehicles and a minivan.

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