Top 10 Questions – Flashing Traffic Lights

flashing traffic lights - Kevin Payravi / wikimedia

Many Drivers Don’t Know What Flashing Traffic Lights Mean

GMAC Insurance annual National Drivers Test reveals that 36 million American drivers would not pass the written drivers test if taken today.

Many cannot identify the correct action to take when approaching flashing traffic lights. Which is strange, because this is, and has always been, a very common question on the DMV written knowledge test in all states.

Remember the Basic Rule

The basic rule for traffic signals is very simple. Red means stop. Yellow means caution.

What You Should Do

When you approach a flashing red light at a rail road crossing, you may not proceed until the lights stop flashing. Same thing when you approach a stopped school bus.

When you approach an intersection, flashing red lights still mean stop. You are, however, not required to remain stopped until the flashing traffic lights stop flashing – because they won’t. Instead, the flashing red light has the same meaning as a stop sign. You must come to a full stop at a limit line or crosswalk and yield to crossing vehicles and pedestrians. You may then proceed when it is safe to do so.

A flashing yellow light means caution. When you approach a school bus with flashing yellow lights, it tells you that the school bus is about to stop. You should slow down, be alert, and be prepared to stop. At an intersection, the yellow light has the same meaning. You must slow down, watch for crossing traffic and proceed with caution through the intersection. You are not required to stop, unless to avoid an accident.

DMV Example Questions

With this knowledge, you will have no issues when you see questions like the following on your written DMV test:


A traffic light with a flashing red signal means?

  • A. Yield
  • B. Stop
  • C. Caution

A flashing yellow traffic signal means:

  • A. Stop before entering the intersection, if you can do so safely
  • B. Stop. Yield to all cross traffic before entering the intersection
  • C. Slow down and enter the intersection carefully

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