Does the flashing red light eventually turn into a steady red light before it changes to green? If so, does it always happen this way? Thank you!

"Drivers facing a flashing red traffic control light must stop before the stop line or crosswalk. If there is no stop line or crosswalk, drivers must stop before the intersection. Drivers should proceed only when it is safe and after yielding the right-of way. The flashing red light is treated like a stop sign."

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    In the US, a flashing red light never changes at all, it just stays flashing red forever. It is just like a permanently placed stop sign, but easier to see. I am not sure if Canada is the same but I would assume so. Mar 16 at 18:18
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    (Technically, it might change eventually - if it was flashing because it is a regular traffic signal that was out of order, and eventually gets fixed; or in some places when regular traffic signals switch to flashing red during late night hours. But it certainly doesn't change on a regular cycle.) Mar 16 at 18:20
  • Legislation tag would be good. Mar 16 at 19:13
  • I am able to imagine "flashing-red", on a light where green-for-"go" is also a possibility, used as a replacement for for "yellow". I'm not aware of anywhere in the U.S. that this convention is used... Mar 16 at 19:37
  • Maurice, do you want to know whether it changes to red by itself, or whether it changes to red before green after the maintenance workers fix the traffic lights?
    – user253751
    Mar 16 at 23:22

1 Answer 1


Does the flashing red light eventually turn into a steady red light before it changes to green?

Not really.

Fail Mode For Regular Stoplights

A flashing red light is usually a default mode of a traffic light system when the control system is broken, or the power grid is down. In these cases, it returns to its usual red-yellow-green mode when the system is back up and running.

enter image description here

Visibility Enhancing Red Only Flashing Red Lights

But, sometimes a permanently flashing red light with no other colors is deployed in addition to, or instead of, a stop sign, at intersections where stop sign visibility has been a problem. In these cases there is never a solid red light, or a light of any other color. It looks like this:

enter image description here

or like this:

enter image description here

(Obviously, none of these still images actually shows the flashing in action, you have to use your imagination.)

  • FWIW, over here in Germany, traffic lights don't flash in red. They may be switched off or flash yellow, and in both cases this is as if the traffic light did not exist. Most traffic lights have normal signs in addition, and they are then in force. Level railway crossings flash red, and that is not just a stop sign but a "don't cross, train is closeby" Mar 16 at 19:17
  • @cbeleitesunhappywithSX What happens when the usual traffic light network's operation is disrupted by a severe storm or power outage?
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 16 at 19:24
  • @ohwilleke you assume they are networked! Germany is very backwards! I would guess they turn off or flash yellow as cbeleites said
    – user253751
    Mar 16 at 23:22
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    I lived in a town where the main street turned traffic signals into two-way stops late at night. The main thoroughfare direction got a flashing yellow, while side streets got a flashing red. You had to be extremely careful because people out of town would wrongly assume the perpendicular direction was would stop.
    – user71659
    Mar 17 at 3:14
  • Thank you all very much for your detailed answers!
    – Maurice
    Mar 17 at 5:11

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