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Old 19th August 2014, 21:38   #1
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Default Understanding Traffic Lights

In initial days when the signal system was introduced, there were only 3 signals - RED, YELLOW and GREEN, with most people being aware of what it means.

The next step that followed separated the single GREEN into 3 arrows for left, straight and right. Still the general public knew what it meant.

In the recent times, different cities have come up with their own conventions/variants of additional representations, some of which are a little confusing and at the same time ambiguous. This thread is created to capture all the traffic signals used in India and the meaning, especially the ones that are ambiguous?

Here are the ones that I know of, and what I think they mean.

STEADY RED:
Stop at the stop line, if you do not have a GREEN ARROW in your intended direction.

STEADY YELLOW:
Cross the intersection if you are already beyond the stop line, otherwise stop at the stop line and wait for the next signal.

STEADY GREEN ARROW:
Proceed in the indicated direction if it is safe to do so.

STEADY RED ARROW:
Turn not allowed in the direction shown. This can be temporary or permanent. I've seen this being used for the No-entry indication in some junctions while in other places, it is just the equivalent of Red light in that direction.

BLINKING GREEN ARROW:

You can proceed in the indicated direction if the road is free, and should yield to traffic coming from other directions in case of conflict. Typically the situation in case of free left, where you might get into the path of someone going in straight direction and coming from your right side.

BLINKING YELLOW:

Slow down your vehicle. Signal is not regulating the traffic. Cross the intersection after ensuring it is safe to do so.

BLINKING RED:
Same as blinking yellow, but should yield to the traffic on the intersecting road. This is usually used in side roads crossing a main road (eg: highway crossing) with the blinking yellow on the main roads.

Feel free to add any other formats/meaning that is followed in some part of our country.
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Old 19th August 2014, 22:00   #2
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Default re: Understanding Traffic Lights

Continuous blinking Yellow (Round Shape):

Name:  solartrafficblinker250x250.jpg
Views: 1657
Size:  10.7 KB

I find this light on median section that allows a part for a right / left / U turn.

To alert the users this light is used so that they realise there is a break in the median.

The below one:

Name:  300mmledpedestrianstopandwalk250x250.jpg
Views: 1693
Size:  10.4 KB

RED: Pedestrians should NOT cross the road over the zebra crossing.

GREEN: Pedestrians can cross the road over the zebra crossing.

Anurag.
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Old 20th August 2014, 08:50   #3
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Question re: Understanding Traffic Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by zenren View Post
BLINKING RED:
Same as blinking yellow, but should yield to the traffic on the intersecting road. This is usually used in side roads crossing a main road (eg: highway crossing) with the blinking yellow on the main roads.
I have seen this signal being used at pedestrian crossing on the busy state highways (eg Ghodbunder Road, Thane) probably used to warn the vehicles to slow down to make way for the pedestrian crossing the road. Also have seen this signal being freely used right before approaching some well known societies in Thane city inner roads. Is this legal?
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Old 20th August 2014, 10:03   #4
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Default re: Understanding Traffic Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by zenren View Post
BLINKING YELLOW:
Slow down your vehicle. Signal is not regulating the traffic. Cross the intersection after ensuring it is safe to do so.

BLINKING RED:
Same as blinking yellow, but should yield to the traffic on the intersecting road. This is usually used in side roads crossing a main road (eg: highway crossing) with the blinking yellow on the main roads.
In the US, blinking yellow means "slow down and proceed", and blinking red means "stop your vehicle completely and then proceed". The blinking red is used at roads where you enter into high density traffic. I guess the same meaning applies in India.

OT: The solid white/yellow line on the side of the road actually means "no parking". Story goes that the person who suggested this got a cash award, only to pay up the same amount within a week for such illegal parking.

Last edited by jinojohnt : 20th August 2014 at 10:06.
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Old 21st August 2014, 23:50   #5
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Default Re: Understanding Traffic Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by zenren View Post
BLINKING GREEN ARROW:[/b]
You can proceed in the indicated direction if the road is free, and should yield to traffic coming from other directions in case of conflict. Typically the situation in case of free left, where you might get into the path of someone going in straight direction and coming from your right side.
In Pune I was about to take a right turn at the Hadapsar MIDC signal, the right arrow was green.

What happened next- I was caught by police in middle of the intersection saying I have jumped the signal. I see the right arrow signal light its now off.

I know that the right signal turns on only for a few seconds, so I was in haste when I say the right arrow signal it was green (as per traffic police it was blinking green) but then hardly I had a time to look at the signal as I had to look in front to drive and cross the road fast. Add to it the horrible driving ethics of Pune drivers.

As per the Traffic constable the signal was blinking green which means its going to soon turn red(or off) which means one should not take a right turn if one sees it blinking.

I had a heated argument with the traffic constable and I waited for the signal again to turn to blinking green. It just blinks twice or thrice and then gets off (which means no right turn).

Now how can one take a right turn when the traffic is slow moving and expect the vehicle to cross the entire cross section within 2-3 blinks of the arrow. Its not possible practically.

I complained to the constable but he told take this to media and highlight the case then only one can look into the matter

Ultimately I had to shell 100 Rs. as I was getting late. I think it was one of those month ends when the Traffic constables have targets to meet in terms of revenue on fines.
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Old 22nd August 2014, 09:51   #6
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Default Re: Understanding Traffic Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by jinojohnt View Post
In the US, blinking yellow means "slow down and proceed", and blinking red means "stop your vehicle completely and then proceed". The blinking red is used at roads where you enter into high density traffic. I guess the same meaning applies in India.

OT: The solid white/yellow line on the side of the road actually means "no parking". Story goes that the person who suggested this got a cash award, only to pay up the same amount within a week for such illegal parking.
I'm yet to come across the blinking red though blinking yellow is more common. The sad part about the system is that even though we have really meaningful signalling methods, no one really follows them and when you do, especially during late nights or early mornings, all you get is an annoyed driver blaring his horn behind you.

On an unrelated note, I've seen cabbies flashing their lights too often to overtake. I mean even in crawling bumper to bumper traffic where there's nowhere to go anyway!
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Old 24th August 2014, 17:05   #7
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Default Re: Understanding Traffic Lights

Here is a sample of steady red arrow to stop traffic in one direction while allowing in other directions.

Name:  red turn.jpg
Views: 1798
Size:  103.1 KB

Can someone tell me how this signal is different from a Red light with a green straight arrow? Please note that there is no left turn here.

Earlier, the Red arrow meant no-entry which meant it would never turn green. However, now the red light turns green after a while. I hope the Road Ministry standardizes the signals.

Last edited by zenren : 24th August 2014 at 17:07.
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Old 24th August 2014, 17:13   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zenren View Post
However, now the red light turns green after a while. I hope the Road Ministry standardizes the signals.
1) Arrow pointing right is red:

a) The traffic that is viewing that signal is 'not' allowed to take a right turn as the traffic from the opposite side is 'green' and going straight.

b) The traffic viewing that signal is allowed to go straight.

2) Arrow pointing right is green: The traffic that is viewing that signal is 'now' allowed to take a right turn as the traffic from the opposite side is stopped by 'red' light and not going straight.

Anurag.

Last edited by a4anurag : 24th August 2014 at 17:16.
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Old 24th August 2014, 19:21   #9
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Default Re: Understanding Traffic Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by a4anurag View Post
1) Arrow pointing right is red:

a) The traffic that is viewing that signal is 'not' allowed to take a right turn as the traffic from the opposite side is 'green' and going straight.
How would the meaning of the signal change if it was a red light (circle) glowing along with green arrow for straight with the right turn arrow off?

EDIT:
Earlier, the Red Arrow used to mean that the turn in that direction is not allowed and the driver should not hold up the traffic waiting for a signal that would never turn green. (eg: 1-way streets coming into that junction) That used to be the difference between the regular red light and a red arrow. Now the meaning seems to have changed based on how the person implementing it understands it!

Last edited by zenren : 24th August 2014 at 19:34.
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Old 24th August 2014, 20:16   #10
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Default Re: Understanding Traffic Lights

One point I have sometimes thought about is whether traffic lights convey any information about when it is permissible to cross the Stop line and keep your vehicle on the intersection waiting for the eventual green. I see this mostly on T junctions (but also 4-way crossings) when approaching from a short arm and wanting to turn into the long arm. Typically the custom I have noticed in some (not all!) such junctions is that upon the signal for going straight turning green the traffic wanting to make the turn advances a few metres beyond the Stop line and waits at the divider. I have also noticed that in some junctions this is not practised and the usual custom of waiting at the Stop line is followed.
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Old 24th August 2014, 21:50   #11
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Default Re: Understanding Traffic Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kumar R View Post
One point I have sometimes thought about is whether traffic lights convey any information about when it is permissible to cross the Stop line and keep your vehicle on the intersection waiting for the eventual green. I see this mostly on T junctions (but also 4-way crossings) when approaching from a short arm and wanting to turn into the long arm. Typically the custom I have noticed in some (not all!) such junctions is that upon the signal for going straight turning green the traffic wanting to make the turn advances a few metres beyond the Stop line and waits at the divider. I have also noticed that in some junctions this is not practised and the usual custom of waiting at the Stop line is followed.
If you have crossed the stop line and stopped, you are still in violation of the traffic rules and can be treated as jumping a red light. However, you might end up just getting a ticket and would not be causing accidents if you do so, which makes this a lesser gravity offense than actually crossing a junction during a red light.

I know someone who received Rs.100 fine for stopping in front of stop line while someone who actually jumped the signal got Rs. 1000 fine. Lead car jumped the signal while the car following it stopped after the red line.

Again, in our country, it is a different story regarding how clear the stop lines are. If the stop lines have faded away and are not visible, it should be the government body responsible for maintaining the road that should be penalized by the police but that never happens!
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Old 24th August 2014, 22:16   #12
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Default Re: Understanding Traffic Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by zenren View Post
If you have crossed the stop line and stopped, you are still in violation of the traffic rules and can be treated as jumping a red light. However, you might end up just getting a ticket and would not be causing accidents if you do so, which makes this a lesser gravity offense than actually crossing a junction during a red light.
I normally (obviously) stop at the Stop line. But on certain crossings I've been frequently berated by traffic police for not inching ahead and waiting on the divider -- one of them even pointed at the signal (green for forward only, mind you) as if to suggest I did not know how to read them -- hence my doubt whether a green go (for straight) but no green for right is still ok for going ahead and waiting on the divider.
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Old 24th August 2014, 23:12   #13
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Default Re: Understanding Traffic Lights

Hope the following diagrams help me explain the situation and the interpretation of the same:

Understanding Traffic Lights-1.jpg

Understanding Traffic Lights-2.jpg

Anurag.
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