Traffic schools » Other resources » Traffic signs » Traffic signals

Traffic signals

Traffic signals

Traffic control signals are electrically operated devices which direct traffic to proceed and to stop. They warn and regulate the flow of traffic that includes bicycles, motorcycles, motor vehicles and pedestrians among other road users. Drivers can see these traffic signals above, along or beside roadways. They help to avoid traffic problems at intersections, offering the highest degree of control, transmitting messages of “what not to do” and “what to do”.

The most common traffic signals are as follows:
  • The red signal light indicates “Stop”. Once drivers are in front of it, it is possible they make a right turn, but only after they stop and yield to vehicles and pedestrians in their path. If there is a “No turn on red” posted sign, drivers are obviously not allowed to make a turn.
    red signal light

  • The yellow signal light indicates drivers that the red signal is going to appear. Drivers should stop when they see this signal; if it is not possible to stop, they have to look out for vehicles that can enter the intersection when the light changes.
    yellow signal light

  • The green signal light indicates “go”. Before going, drivers must first let bicycles, motorcycles, vehicles or pedestrians that remains in the intersection get through.
    green signal light

    When the light is green, drivers can enter an intersection only if there is enough space to cross completely before the light changes to red. Regarding “turning left”, it may be done only if drivers have enough space to complete it. Drivers who turn left must yield to those who are going from the opposite direction. Considering the aforementioned indications, drivers can prevent hazardous situations.

  • Pedestrian signals. They are traffic signals posted with the purpose of controlling pedestrian traffic. These signs show a “walking person” (or the word “walk”) and a “raised hand in orange” (or the word “don't walk”). Pedestrians are allowed to cross when the walking person appears. On the other hand pedestrians are not allowed to cross when the raised hand appears. There are some cases where there aren't these signals on the road; in such cases pedestrians must obey the traffic signals on the semaphore (red, yellow and green lights).

    dont walk dont walk dont walk

  • Lane signs. The purpose of these signs is to indicate drivers which lane they have to use, to go ahead or to make a turn. Once drivers are in the correct lane they must pay attention to the arrows (on the road) which indicate the direction that must be followed.
    lane signs