Please help me with this. There are two lines of traffic lights in the highlighted area. one for right side traffic only

  1. the left side line is green and the right side line there is no right arrow indication
  2. the left side line is green and the right side line is also on with right green arrow

Any difference between these two, if we want to turn right?

picture with filter lane

  • If the right-hand signal is not showing a light of any description it is probably broken.
    – mdewey
    May 25, 2022 at 9:14
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    @mdewey the photo is a bit small, but this light cluster only has a single light in the right-hand collumn, so it can only be unlit or lit. This is not an unusal configuration.
    – CMaster
    May 25, 2022 at 9:15
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    The highway code gives an example of one in this section: gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/… (although they also include a tram signal on the cluster, which is less common). The context you typically see them is when there is seperate signalling for different turning directions but only a single carriageway. Wheras if the carrigaeway splits for different turning directions, each direction normally gets a full collumn of lights.
    – CMaster
    May 25, 2022 at 9:22
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    @mdewey I believe they are called a Filter Lights - in London at least it is more common for the right-turn filter arrow to be below the green light, e.g. High Holborn/Gray's Inn Rd or Bellevue Rd/Trinity Rd near Wandsworth (which was briefly broken)
    – B.Liu
    May 25, 2022 at 12:58
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    @B.Liu now you mention it I believe I have seen them but I obviously do not drive near them these days as I live in a rural area.
    – mdewey
    May 25, 2022 at 15:17

1 Answer 1


Green light with no arrow means all directions can proceed if it is safe to do so.

Green arrow alone means only turning that direction can proceed (obviously again if safe to do so).

Green light + green arrow right is normally indicating to right-turners that traffic from other directions has stopped and so it should be safe for right turners to proceed - wheras with the green light only, oncoming traffic that might block right turns was being allowed.

As ever, the primary reference point for driving in the UK is the highway code, although this use is more "customary" than legal and is not clearly covered, the closest section indicating

A GREEN ARROW may be provided in addition to the full green signal if movement in a certain direction is allowed before or after the full green phase. If the way is clear you may go but only in the direction shown by the arrow. You may do this whatever other lights may be showing.

  • I have not been driving much in the UK, but in most other European countries, a green arrow also indicate that there are no other road users (be it cars, bicyclists or pedestrians) with priority to be expected. If you for example in a country driving on the right want to turn left and have a green, regular light (no arrow), you must usually expect that you have to yield for oncoming traffic and you might also have to cross a pedestrian crossing, where people are also walking on a green light. If you have a green, left arrow, there will be no oncoming traffic or pedestrians to yield for. May 25, 2022 at 11:02
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo that is what I was trying to express in this answer, I'll see if I can reword it to make it clearer.
    – CMaster
    May 25, 2022 at 11:16
  • Sure, I was probably just a bit quick reading through it. May 25, 2022 at 18:39
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I can't think of a situation in the UK where both a car and a pedestrian would have green lights onto the same bit of road. However there are junctions, "fake crossings" if you like, where the cars have lights and the pedestrians don't, and basically have to guess when they can cross (aided, if they're lucky by drivers' indicators). May 25, 2022 at 19:20
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo if lights exist for the pedestrians, yes. A driver turning right may of course have to wait for cars. But if pedestrians have a green light, they can go with no fear of drivers heading towards them legitimately, and a driver with a green light shouldn't have pedestrians walking out in front - but the concept of jaywalking doesn't exist here, so a red light for pedestrians is an input to a judgement call - it can be red unnecessarily so that very slow people can be confident to cross on green May 25, 2022 at 21:04

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