California Driver’s Handbook

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Section 12 of 28

Traffic Control

Traffic Signal Lights

image of a red lightSolid Red–A red traffic signal light means “STOP.” You can make a right turn against a red traffic signal light after you stop. Yield to pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles close enough to be a hazard. Make the right turn only when it is safe. Do not turn if a “NO TURN ON RED” sign is posted.

image of a red arrowRed Arrow–A red arrow means “STOP.” Remain stopped until the green signal or green arrow appears. Do not turn against a red arrow.

image of a flashing red lightFlashing Red–A flashing red traffic signal light means “STOP.” After stopping, you may proceed when it is safe. Observe the right-of-way rules.

image of a yellow lightSolid Yellow–A yellow traffic signal light means “CAUTION.” The red traffic signal light is about to appear. When you see the yellow traffic signal light, stop if you can do so safely. If you cannot stop safely, cross the intersection cautiously.

image of a yellow arrowYellow Arrow–A yellow arrow means the “protected” turning time period is ending. Be prepared to obey the next traffic signal light, which could be the green or red traffic signal light or the red arrow.

image of a flashing yellow lightFlashing Yellow–A flashing yellow traffic signal light warns you to “PROCEED WITH CAUTION.” Slow down and be alert before entering the intersection. Yield to any pedestrians, bicyclists, or vehicles in the intersection. You do not need to stop for a flashing yellow traffic signal light.

image of a flashing yellow arrowFlashing Yellow Arrow–This traffic signal light means turns are permitted (unprotected), but you must first yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians and then proceed with caution.

image of a green lightSolid Green–Give the right-of-way to any vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian in the intersection. A green traffic signal light means “GO.” If you are turning left, make the turn only if you have enough space to complete the turn before creating a
hazard for any oncoming vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian. Do not enter the intersection if you cannot get completely across before the traffic signal light turns red. If you block the intersection, you can be cited

image of a green arrowGreen Arrow– A green arrow means “GO.” You must turn in the direction the arrow is pointing after you yield to any vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian still in the intersection. The green arrow
allows you to make a “protected” turn. Oncoming vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians are stopped by a red traffic signal light as long as the green arrow is lighted.

Traffic Signal Light Not Working (Blackout)–The traffic signal light is not working and/or no lights are showing on the signal. Proceed cautiously as if the intersection is controlled by “STOP” signs in all directions.

Pedestrian Signal Lights

Pedestrian traffic signal lights show words or pictures similar to the following examples:

Image of Walk Sign

“Walk” or “Walking Person” pedestrian traffic signal light means it is legal to cross the street.

image of do not walk signal

“Don’t Walk” or “Raised Hand” 

You may not cross the street.

Flashing “Don’t Walk” or Flashing “Raised Hand”

Do not start crossing the street. The traffic signal light is about to change. Drivers must yield to pedestrians, even if the “Don’t Walk” light is flashing.

Pedestrian traffic signal lights may also show numbers to indicate how many seconds remain for crossing. These pedestrian traffic signal lights allow pedestrians the flexibility to speed up if the crossing phase is about to expire.

4 way stop

Pedestrian Phases (also called Pedestrian Scrambles) are a series of crisscross, diagonal crosswalks that allow pedestrians to cross in any direction at the same time, including diagonally across the intersection. These signals stop all vehicle traffic during the scramble phase. Some pedestrian traffic signal lights may provide a beeping or chirping sound or a verbal message. These traffic signal lights are designed to help blind or visually impaired pedestrians cross the street.

At many traffic signal lights, you need to push the pedestrian push button to activate the “Walk” or “Walking Person” pedestrian traffic signal light. If there are no pedestrian signals, obey the vehicle traffic signal lights.