AARP Driving Resource Center

Traffic Signal Lights and Signs — Everything You Need to Know

Decode the messages of colors and shapes

Signal Lights

Red: Stop.

Yellow: Prepare to stop.

Green: Go.

Flashing red light: Come to a complete stop and yield to oncoming traffic or pedestrians.

Flashing yellow light: Slow down and proceed with caution.

Flashing yellow arrow: You may proceed in the direction of the arrow after yielding to oncoming traffic.

Green arrow: You may proceed in the direction of the arrow. No other traffic is supposed to be in conflict with your turn — your turn is “protected.” You may still proceed once the green arrow turns off if you have a green light, but your turn is no longer protected. Other traffic may have the right-of-way, and you must yield.

Red arrow: You may not proceed in the direction of the arrow until it turns off. A flashing red arrow means that you must come to a complete stop before proceeding.


Red octagon: Come to a complete stop, and then proceed with caution.

Fluorescent yellow/green pentagon: Pedestrian crossing or school zone.

Yellow or white circle: Rail crossing ahead.

Yellow diamond: General warning about road condition.

White vertical rectangle: Regulates driving conditions and/or speed limit.

Brown horizontal rectangle: Public recreation or scenic guidance.

Red circle with white horizontal bar across middle: Do not enter.

Inverted white triangle with red border: Allow other drivers to go first (yield).

Horizontal blue rectangle: Directions to a hospital.

Yellow pennant pointed right: No passing zone.

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