Is it a violation to stop in the middle of an intersection on a flashing yellow turn signal while you're waiting to turn?

A Lake Oswego police officer or firefighter answers readers' questions each week in this space. To submit a question, call Editor Gary M. Stein at 503-479-2376 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

SIMONIs it a violation to stop in the middle of an intersection on a flashing yellow turn signal while you're waiting to turn?

The short answer to this is, "Yes."

There are a couple of Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) that apply to drivers in this situation. The first thing we look at is what is required when encountering a flashing yellow turn arrow. Per ORS 811.260, drivers facing the flashing yellow arrow may cautiously enter the intersection only to make the movement indicated by the arrow or the movement permitted by other signals shown at the same time. In other words, we believe they can enter the intersection to make the turn. They cannot wait in the intersection and then make a turn.

Additionally, drivers have to yield to other motorists in the intersection and can't turn in such a way as to make themselves an immediate hazard to vehicles approaching from the opposite direction. If they do not follow the prescribed response, they could be in violation of ORS 811.265 - Driver Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device.

For those motorists that stop in the middle of an intersection — usually a result of a traffic back-up — and end up blocking the intersection or a crosswalk, they may be in violation of ORS 811.290 - Obstructing Cross Traffic. This offense is committed when a driver is operating a vehicle and enters an intersection when there's not sufficient space on the other side of the intersection or crosswalk to accommodate the vehicle without obstructing the passage of other vehicles or pedestrians. This offense applies whether or not the traffic control device (green light) indicates the driver can proceed.

To avoid causing any of these issues, a driver should wait to enter an intersection until they can make the complete turn out of it. It is also helpful to scan as far ahead as you can to see the impending back-up and avoid getting caught in the middle of an intersection or crosswalk.

Drive safe!

— Lt. Clayton Simon

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