Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How to Make a Traffic Light Turn Green

cars in traffic

If you’ve ever driven a car in a city, you know the frustration of sitting at a red light for what feels like forever. Surely the light will turn green soon, you think, until you find yourself wondering at what point you should give up and run the red light, or turn the car around.

The reason for this isn’t because you’re impatient. It’s because some lights will really take a longer time than usual, and some lights need to be triggered to turn green, meaning they could stay red all day under the right conditions. Stop lights work in two ways: preset and triggered. Preset lights have a predetermined schedule that they stick to at all times, though this schedule can change depending on the time of day and time of year. Triggered traffic lights use either an inductive loop detector, or a motion sensor camera to detect when a vehicle is waiting at a red light. If no vehicle is there, the light may never change.

Triggered traffic lights can usually be spotted pretty easily. In general, you’ll be able to spot either a camera next to the lights, or markings or grooves on the road (usually a square or a U-shape) right where the car should stop at a red light. If neither the marking nor the camera is noticeable, then the light is almost surely on a set schedule, so your only choice is to be patient.

How to make the traffic light turn green

If you find yourself waiting for a long time at a red light, there’s one main thing that you can do. Make sure that your vehicle is centered in the middle of the lane, and pulled up to the very front of the lane, as this is where the inductive loop detectors are, and what the cameras are pointed towards. Try not to have your car extend into the crosswalk, but rather have it pulled up right to the beginning of the crosswalk. If you notice markings on the road, that’s where the inductive loop detector is, so try and position your vehicle directly above the markings.

How to make the light turn green when you're on a motorcycle

Since motorcycles are smaller than cars, it can be a little bit harder for them to be detected. As such, you want to be extra careful to position your bike in the ideal position. Be sure to look for inductive loop detector markings, and then place your bike directly in the center of the marking. If there are no markings, position your bike right in the center of the lane, and pull it up to the very front.

How to make the light turn green on a bicycle

If you’re trying to get the light to turn green while waiting on a bicycle, simply follow the same directions as if you were on a motorcycle. If the road you’re on features a bike lane, look for inductive loop detector markings there as well, so you know whether you need to venture into the vehicle lane, or if you can stay in the bike lane. If you find yourself waiting for an excessively long time, and you can safely get to the crosswalk, try pressing the button for pedestrians who are looking to cross the street.

Long-lasting red lights can be incredibly frustrating, but they can sometimes be avoided. Follow these steps when applicable, and if the light is predetermined, you can at least be assured that no, the light isn’t broken – it will turn green eventually.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.

ASK A QUESTION

More related articles

P0121 OBD-II Trouble Code: TPS "A" Circuit Range Performance Problem
P0121 code definition Throttle Pedal Position Sensor/Switch (TPS) A Circuit Range Performance Problem What the P0121 code means P0121 is a generic OBD-II code which indicates that the Engine Control...
Insurance Requirements for Car Registration in Kentucky
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requires that all drivers in Kentucky carry liability automotive insurance, or “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle legally and maintain vehicle...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...


Related questions

Q: Engine loses power when stopped in traffic - 2004 BMW 325is

Hello. Due to the broad range of things that could possibly be causing these issues, I would recommend that you get a general vehicle inspection performed by a qualified technician in order to get a better idea of what could...

Q: Dimmer light not working - 1991 GMC K2500

Hey there, thanks for writing in about your 1991 GMC K2500. You should have power on the white wire, dark green wire, and also the brown wire when the dashboard lights dimmer is turned on. If you need help having...

Q: In traffic when accelerating, engine hits over-rev protection

Hello there, thank you for asking about your 1989 Dodge Ramcharger. Check the transmission fluid to be sure the transmission is not being starved of fluid while operating. Otherwise it sounds like there is trouble in the transmission valve body...