Traffic lights – what do they mean?

If you’re taking driving lessons, you really must understand what the different colour traffic lights mean!

Standard traffic lights in the UK follow the same sequence – starting with red the sequence is: Red, Red and Amber, Green, Amber, Red.

Read below to discover why green sometimes means stop!

Red

Red and amber

Red traffic lightRed means that you must stop and wait behind the stop line. As you approach, check your mirrors – has the driver behind seen the light?Slow down early and be prepared for the lights to change. If the light is red when you arrive, stop behind the stop line.Red and amber traffic lightRed and amber showing together alerts you to the fact that the lights are about to change to green. If the lights are red and amber as you approach, time your arrival so that they are green when you get there.You must not cross the stop line until the lights have changed to green. When red and amber show, prepare to move and check your mirrors.

Green

Steady amber

Green traffic lightGreen means that you can move off if the way is clear and safe to do so. Look out for pedestrians and for traffic that may not stop at the lights. For example, emergency vehicles may proceed against a red light.Always check your mirrors before moving, especially if you are turning left (look for cyclists) or on a road with more than one lane of traffic (look for other road users who may change lanes).Amber traffic lightLike red, amber means STOP.You may only proceed at a steady amber traffic light if you have crossed the stop line or are so close to it that stopping might cause an accident (the rules are different for flashing amber lights – see pedestrian crossings for details).

Green sometimes means stop!

Fire engine at red lightThe picture on the right shows a fire engine going through a red light.

Just because the lights are green you can’t automatically assume that it will be safe to drive through – always glance left and right to check.

Fire engines aren’t the only vehicles you might encounter; you might also see police cars or ambulances – and then there are the bank robbers…

Unlike professional emergency drivers, bank robbers don’t care about your safety – they are usually in a stolen car and only interested in getting away. the good news is, if you spot them you might get a reward!

With thanks to DriverActive