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What to know about red lights in North Carolina

Stopping when approaching a red light or a stop sign is a generally known rule of the road, but there are other instances, such as encountering a blinking red light, where a North Carolina motorist may not know how to proceed. Being aware of how to handle uncertain situations with red lights can help prevent law enforcement citing you for making a wrong move on the road and incurring financial penalties.

When it comes to blinking red lights, North Carolina traffic law states that drivers are to come to a stop and yield to automobiles that have the right of way. A blinking red light is different than a blinking yellow light, which permits drivers to proceed through an intersection with caution if no other vehicles have the right of way. Proceeding on a blinking red light is governed by the same rules that dictate how to pass after stopping at a stop sign.

Another point of confusion is whether to turn right on a red light. North Carolina law does permit drivers to make a right turn, but it is dependent on a few factors. A driver must come to a complete stop at an intersection. There must be no sign that forbids turning right. The driver is to yield right of way to vehicles and pedestrians. If these conditions are met, the driver can turn right.

Recently, North Carolina drivers have been confused over whether they can make turns if the red light is a red arrow. A 2018 report run on WBTV out of Concord makes it clear that right turns on a red arrow are not permitted. However, ignorance of this law has contributed to a number of intersection accidents in the year 2018, with vehicles rear-ending other vehicles whose drivers turned into an intersection on a red arrow thinking it was fine to do so.

Mistaken assumptions about unfamiliar traffic signals can not only lead to auto accidents but also traffic citations from law enforcement. Drivers should familiarize themselves with the many different scenarios they can encounter on the road. If the event a driver does end up charged with a traffic violation, it is possible to contest it in court.