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Signalized Intersections

Photo: Pedestrians crossing a Signalized Intersection in a residential area

Outreach and Education
Technical Materials
Other Resources
Federal and State Research
National Partners


Traffic signals are electrically operated traffic control devices that provide indication for roadway users to advance their travels by alternately assigning right-of-way to each approach and movement. Traffic signals facilitate an ordered, shared use of road space by separating conflicting movements in time and allocating delay to the various users.

Traffic signals are most often chosen for operational reasons, and in some cases may represent a trade-off between safety and mobility. Great care must be taken when considering the signalization of an intersection, and the needs of all users – motorized and non-motorized – must be evaluated. The following table summarizes the number of people killed each year at signalized intersections in the United States, based on data extracted from the NHTSA Fatality Analysis and Reporting System (FARS).

Year Total U.S. Traffic Fatalities Intersection Fatalities Signalized Intersection Fatalities Signalized Intersection Fatalities involving a Pedestrian Signalized Intersection Fatalities involving a Bicyclist
2010 32,999 8,633 2,477 546 103
2011 32,479 8,317 2,442 559 136
2012 33,782 8,851 2,618 643 165
2013 32,894 8,676 2,622 623 159
2014 32,675 8,661 2,675 648 112

Outreach and Education

Photo: Roadway with Signalized Intersections

Technical Materials

  1. plus symbol Federal Transportation Resources

    • Signalized Intersections: An Informational Guide, 2nd Edition (FHWA, 2013) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Traffic Signal Management Plans (FHWA, 2015) [HTML] [PDF]
    • NCHRP Report 812 – Signal Timing Manual, 2nd Edition (TRB/FHWA, 2015) [PDF]
    • Traffic Signal LED Module Specification Workshop and Informational Report for Snow Conditions (FHWA, 2013) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Proven Safety Countermeasures – Overview (FHWA, 2012) [HTML]
    • Proven Safety Countermeasures – Backplates with Retroreflective Borders (FHWA, 2012) [HTML] [PDF]
    • A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, 6th Edition – Chapter 9 Intersections (AASHTO, 2011) [HTML]

      This item is only available through purchase or inter-library loan ISBN Number 978-1-56051-508-1

    • Improving Traffic Signal Management and Operations: A Basic Service Model (FHWA, 2009) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Low-Cost Safety Enhancements for Stop-Controlled and Signalized Intersections (FHWA, 2009) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (FHWA, 2009)
      • Full Document [HTML] [PDF]
      • Part 4 – Highway Traffic Signals [HTML] [PDF]
    • Signal Timing Manual, 1st Edition (FHWA, 2008) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Signalized Intersections: An Informational Guide, 1st Edition (FHWA, 2004) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Signalized Intersection Safety Scan (FHWA/AASHTO, 2002) [HTML] [PDF]
  2. plus symbol State Highway Agency Signalized Intersection Resources

    • Click on orange-shaded boxes to open link in browser.

      State Highway Agency Signalized Intersection Resources Map
  3. plus symbol Americans with Disabilities Act ADA, Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Resources

    • FHWA Accessibility Resource Library [HTML]
    • Large Field Test of New Stereo Detection System for the Pedestrian Signal Phase for the Visually Impaired (FHWA, 2012) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Proposed Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way – Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (U.S. Access Board, 2011) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Pedestrian Safety Handbook (American Council of the Blind, 2011) [HTML]
    • Accessible Pedestrian Signals: A Guide to Best Practices
      • Website Resource [HTML]
      • NCHRP Web-Only Document 150 – Workshop Edition 2010 (TRB, 2009) [PDF]
      • NCHRP Web-Only Document 117A – Original Report (TRB, 2007) [PDF]
    • Special Report: Accessible Public Rights-of-Way Planning and Design for Alterations (U.S. Access Board, 2007) [HTML]
Photo: Left arrow signalized light

Other Resources

Federal and State Research

  1. plus symbol FHWA

    • Safety Evaluation of Converting Traffic Signals from Incandescent to Light-Emitting Diodes (FHWA, 2013) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Safety Evaluation of Discontinuing Late-Night Flash Operations at Signalized Intersections (FHWA, 2013) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Where Pedestrians Cross the Roadway Tech Brief (FHWA, 2013) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Balancing Safety and Capacity in an Adaptive Signal Control System – Phase 1 (FHWA, 2010) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Beyond Traffic Signals: A Paradigm Shift – Intersection Control for Autonomous Vehicles (FHWA, 2009) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Next-Generation Smart Traffic Signals (FHWA, 2009) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Pedestrian and Bicyclist Intersection Safety Indices Final Report (FHWA, 2006) [HTML] [PDF]
    • Driver Attitudes and Behaviors at Intersections and Potential Effectiveness of Engineering Countermeasures (FHWA, 2005) [HTML] [PDF]
  2. plus symbol National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP)

    • NCHRP Report 780 – Design Guidance for Intersection Auxiliary Lanes (TRB, 2014) [PDF]
    • NCHRP Web-Only Document 207 – Evaluation of the Flashing Yellow Arrow Permissive Left-Turn in Shared Yellow Signal Sections (TRB, 2014) [PDF]
    • NCHRP Web-Only Document 204 – Crash Experience Warrant for Traffic Signals (TRB, 2014) [PDF]
    • NCHRP Report 707 – Guidelines on the Use of Auxiliary through Lanes at Signalized Intersections (TRB, 2011) [PDF]
    • NCHRP Report 705 – Evaluation of Safety Strategies at Signalized Intersections (TRB, 2011) [PDF]
    • NCHRP Web-Only Document 150 – Accessible Pedestrian Signals: A Guide to Best Practices (TRB, 2009) [PDF]
    • NCHRP Web-Only Document 146 – Replacement Processes for Light Emitting Diode (LED) Traffic Signals (TRB, 2009) [PDF]
    • NCHRP Web-Only Document 123 – Evaluation of the Flashing Yellow Arrow Permissive-Only Left-Turn Indication Field Implementation (TRB, 2007) [PDF]
    • NCHRP Report 500 – Volume 12: A Guide for Reducing Collisions at Signalized Intersections (TRB, 2004) [PDF]
    • NCHRP Report 493 – Evaluation of Traffic Signal Displays for Protected/Permissive Left-Turn Control (TRB, 2003) [PDF]
    • NCHRP Report 491 – Crash Experience Warrant for Traffic Signals (2003) [PDF]
  3. plus symbol States

    • Evaluation of Flashing Yellow Arrow Traffic Signals in Indiana (Indiana, 2015) [PDF]
    • Understanding Interactions between Drivers and Pedestrian Features at Signalized Intersections (Florida, 2015) [PDF]
    • Driver Comprehension and Operations Evaluation of Flashing Yellow Arrows (Illinois, 2013) [PDF]
    • Improved Pedestrian Safety at Signalized Intersections Operating the Flashing Yellow Arrow Final Report (Oregon, 2013) [PDF]
    • Development of Guidelines for Pedestrian Safety Treatments at Signalized Intersections (Texas, 2012) [PDF]
    • Traffic Signal Operations Handbook, 2nd Edition (Texas, 2011) [PDF]
    • Guidelines for Signal Operations at Intersections with Wide Medians (Texas, 2010) [PDF]
    • Placement of Detection Loops on High Speed Approaches to Traffic Signals (North Carolina, 2010) [PDF]
    • Evaluation of Dilemma Zone Protection Practices for Signalized Intersection Control Final Report (Vermont, 2009) [PDF]
    • Pedestrian Accessibility at Signalized Intersections (Texas, 2009) [PDF] Study of School Zones with Traffic Signals Final Report (Florida, 2009) [PDF]
    • Low-Cost Safety Measures at Signalized Intersections (Kentucky, 2008) [PDF]
    • Urban Intersection Design Guide (Texas, 2005) [PDF]
    • Guidelines for Using Decision Sight Distance at Signalized Intersections near Vertical Curves (Texas, 2004) [PDF]
    • Triple Left-Turn Lanes at Signalized Intersections (Florida, 2002) [PDF]
Photo: Signalized Intersection

National Partners

Page last modified on August 12, 2016
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