What to Do at an Intersection with Flashing Lights

A traffic signal at an intersection is shown with a red light at the top, a yellow light in the middle, and two green arrow lights at the bottom. The green arrows indicate directions straight ahead and to the right. Above the lights, an electronic countdown display shows "00". The background includes trees and a cloudy sky.

Traffic signs and signals are on roadways across North Carolina to guide drivers and facilitate safe travel. In some cases, motorists encounter an intersection with flashing lights in NC. This situation can be confusing. Knowing what to do at an intersection with flashing lights is important.  

You may wonder, “What are the rules around intersections with flashing lights?” The North Carolina car accident lawyers at Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC, know how life-altering accidents can occur if drivers make the wrong moves at intersections. We want drivers to understand NC traffic light laws to avoid accidents.  

North Carolina Law on Traffic Signals and Flashing Lights  

According to traffic signal rules in North Carolinafound under NCGS § 20-158(b)(6), when approaching an intersection with flashing traffic lights in NC, drivers must do the following: 

  • Flashing red light A flashing red signal light indicates that drivers must come to a complete stop before proceeding through the intersection. Drivers should proceed only when they can do so safely and must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and other vehicles lawfully within the intersection. 
  • Flashing yellow light A flashing yellow signal light warns drivers to proceed through the intersection with caution. There is no requirement to stop, but drivers should be vigilant and proceed with care. 

These laws help reduce the chances of accidents by providing drivers with clear directions regarding how to move forward through an intersection governed by a flashing traffic signal 

When Are Flashing Lights Used at Intersections?  

The North Carolina Department of Transportation uses flashing lights to improve safety at intersections. In most cases, traffic signals will revert to flashing red in every direction if there is a problem. It may be a perceived error or an equipment failure that disrupts the regular operation of the light.  

Other areas where flashing yellow lights and flashing red lights may be include: 

  • In school zones
  • At pedestrian crosswalks
  • When emergency vehicles are nearby
  • In construction zones  

What Do Flashing Arrow Lights for Turn Lanes Mean?  

Regarding what to know about intersections with flashing lights in NCthe rules are similar for flashing arrows. At a flashing red arrow, a driver should come to a complete stop before turning. A flashing yellow arrow tells drivers to proceed with caution when turning. Drivers should reduce their speed but are not required to come to a complete stop. 

What to Do When Traffic Lights Are Malfunctioning  

If traffic lights malfunction, such as flashing red in all directions or not lighting up in a traffic signal blackout, drivers should treat the intersection as a four-way stop sign according to NC stop sign rules. That means coming to a complete stop, observing the right-of-way principles, and proceeding with caution when it is safe to do so. 

What Happens When a Driver Fails to Obey Traffic Signals at an Intersection? 

Severe accidents can result when drivers fail to obey traffic control signs and signals in NC. Additionally, drivers may incur fines, traffic citations, and points on their driver’s license for failing to obey NC law on flashing traffic signals. If another motorist injures you by failing to follow a traffic signal at an intersection, our lawyers can help you pursue compensation for your losses.  

Talk to Our Lawyers After a Car Accident at an Intersection with Flashing Lights  

If you are dealing with injuries from a car accident at an intersection with flashing lights in NC, it’s essential to understand your legal options. The car accident attorneys at Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC, are well-versed in North Carolina traffic laws and can explain your rights and what comes next. Contact our law firm for a free consultation today.

Davis Poisson is a trial attorney with Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC and is licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Davis devotes the majority of his practice to civil litigation with a focus on personal injury law. He represents clients throughout the Carolinas in all areas of personal injury law including car accidents, trucking accidents, catastrophic injury, premises liability and wrongful death cases.