Traffic lights

​Running a red light is no joke. Many people are killed or badly injured each year because someone drove through a red light.

Red stoplight​​
​Running a red light is no joke

Running a red light endangers your life and that of other motorists, passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists who are using the intersection.

The law is clear on how you must drive at traffic lights​ and when you must yield the right of way.

Red

​​A steady RED traffic light means come to a full stop. You must wait until the traffic light turns green and there is no crossing traffic before you may go.

If it is safe to do so, you can turn right on red if there is no sign prohibiting it. When the roadway has two right-turn lanes, you may turn right on red from either of them. Be sure to stay in your lane as you turn right.

You can turn left on red if you are turning from a one-way to a one-way street. You must stop first and yield the right of way to all pedestrians, bicyclists and other vehicles using the intersection.​

Green

A steady GREEN traffic light means you can go through the intersection but you must yield to emergency vehicles and others as required by law. If you are stopped and then the light turns green, you must allow crossing traffic to clear the intersection before you go ahead. If you are turning left, a steady green traffic light means you may turn when safe to do. Oncoming traffic has the right-of-way. Be alert for signs that prohibit left turns. When turning right or left, watch for pedestrians crossing in front of your vehicle.

Yellow

A steady YELLOW traffic light means the traffic light is about to change to red. You must stop if it is safe to do so. If you are in the intersection when the yellow light comes on, do not stop but continue through the intersection.​

Red arrow

A RED arrow means the same thing as a red traffic light in Wisconsin.

Green arrow​

A GREEN arrow means you may cautiously enter the intersection and turn in the direction of the arrow. You must yield the right-of-way to all oncoming or crossing traffic while the arrow is green, including bicyclists and pedestrians.​

​Yellow arrow

A YELLOW arrow means you should stop if it is safe to do so, when you want to turn in the direction of the arrow.

Flashing lights

  • Flashing RED traffic light (stop signal) means the same as a stop sign. You must come to a full stop and then you may go when it is safe to do so.
  • Flashing YELLOW traffic light (caution signal) means slow down, check for cross traffic and proceed with caution through the intersection.​
  • Flashing YELLOW arrow means turns are permitted but you must first yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians, then proceed with caution.

Driver Information Section
P.O. Box 7983
Madison, WI 53707-7983

Email Wisconsin DMV email service​​​
Phone (608) 264-7447
Fax (608) 267-3812