NCDOT Changing Flash Mode for Traffic Signals

Change means all drivers must stop when a signal malfunctions

RALEIGH, NC (May 10, 2024) ⇒ The N.C. Department of Transportation is improving safety at intersections when a traffic signal malfunctions and defaults into a flashing mode.

The department has begun modifying its traffic signals so they will revert to a flashing red in every direction whenever there is a problem, such as an equipment failure or a perceived error, that disrupts their normal operation. Drivers should treat this kind of flashing mode like a conventional all-way stop.

“We are making this change to improve the safety of our intersections and provide a consistent display when the signal is not operating normally,” said Nick Zinser, NCDOT’s Western Region Signals Engineer based in Garner. “If a signal is in flashing mode or dark due to power loss, it becomes an all-way stop condition for vehicles and pedestrians.”

Previously, the department used a yellow-red flashing mode when a signal malfunctioned. In this case, the main corridor with the heavier traffic received a flashing yellow for drivers to cautiously proceed, while the side-street drivers received a flashing red instructing them to come to a complete stop and wait until there was a safe gap in traffic.

NCDOT has more than 9,000 signalized intersections across the state, including those operated by municipal agreements in several cities. The department will phase in this change over the next year as part of the preventative maintenance it already conducts on traffic signals.

Change means all drivers
must stop when a signal malfunctions

What to do at an All-Way Stop​​​​​

  • The first vehicle at the intersection has the right of way;
  • When two or more vehicles reach an intersection at the same time, the vehicle to the right has the right of way and may go straight or, if legal and after signaling, turn left or right;
  • When two facing vehicles approach an intersection simultaneously, both drivers can move straight ahead or turn right. If one driver is going straight while the other wants to turn left, the driver who wants to turn left must yield; and
  • Even with the right of way, drivers should remember to use appropriate turn signals and watch for pedestrians and other vehicles.

NCDOT All-Way Stops Info