I was rolling along West End Avenue on my commute home from downtown Nashville last week when I saw a traffic obstacle ahead. It was a flashing yellow light. Apparently the traffic light was out which defaulted it to a flashing yellow light for the main road and a flashing red light for the side streets at the intersection. And how did Nashvillans handle it?
Like a four-way stop.
No, no, no. Not correct. It made that intersection more dangerous than it needed to be.
According to the driving rules from the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the rules for these lights are:
- A flashing RED light means to come to a complete stop and then only proceed when you can.
- A flashing YELLOW light means to proceed with caution.
It is not treated as a four-way stop unless everyone has a flashing RED light. Then – and only then – do you treat it like a four-way stop.
What happened? This intersection was made hazardous by people who do not know – or care – about the correct traffic rule. If you are stuck at the flashing red light on the side streets – too bad. You will have to figure out a way to proceed. More than likely, drivers should turn right and navigate an alternate route instead of turning left or driving across.
The traffic light confusion created a huge traffic jam since the West End traffic started stopping at the flashing yellow light. Yeah, I was fussing. I proceeded with caution but nearly got sideswiped by a driver from the side street who was irritated that I didn’t let them go. Hey, driver – go look at the driver’s manual. It’s not difficult. In fact, Google it on your smart phone while you are driving. You’re texting anyway.
Here are the rules for flashing lights:
- FLASHING RED LIGHT – Stop, yield the right-of-way and proceed when it is safe.
- FLASHING YELLOW LIGHT – Drive with caution.
- STEADY RED ARROW – Do not turn until green light goes on. A right or left turn is not permitted at a red arrow.
- STEADY YELLOW LIGHT – Light is changing from green to red. Be prepared to stop. (No, it doesn’t mean accelerate OR to slam on the brakes)
- STEADY GREEN LIGHT – Our favorite light. Go, but yield the right-of-way to other traffic and pedestrians (and the illegally walking pedestrians) at the intersections as required by law.
So, I proceeded with caution at the intersection last week obeying the flashing yellow light but had a near miss in the process. I wish people would learn the rules. It’s crazy to drive and follow the rules when others ignore them and then fuss/honk/flip your off when they are in the wrong.
Okay, I get it. You are late for something. Vanderbilt is playing a basketball game. Whatever the reason you still need to know what the lights mean.
To clarify again – a YELLOW FLASHING LIGHT means that you must proceed with caution and NOT come to a complete stop.