Traffic Signals

The Winston-Salem Department of Transportation (WSDOT) installs and maintains all traffic signals within the city in accordance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Signals are installed based on need as determined by traffic engineering studies. The Director of Transportation approves the installation of all signals. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) must also approve signal installation on a State System street.

Computerized traffic control coordinates the timing and operation of over 300 traffic signals citywide. Drivers can travel from one signal to the next with minimum stops and delays. Metal detectors embedded in the pavement sense vehicles waiting in travel lanes. The signal coordination reduces driver delays, vehicle pollution emissions, and gasoline consumption. Timing plans are evaluated every six months and specific locations are evaluated based on citizen concerns and complaints.

Report Issues

To report non-functioning or improperly functioning signals, please call City Link at 311 or 336-727-8000.

DOT Installs Wireless Traffic Signals Video

Read the Department of Transportation (DOT) Wireless Traffic Signals video transcript.

  1. Types of Signals
  2. Signal Justification
  3. Signal Timing

While there are many types of traffic signals located throughout Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, here are a few typical situations:

  • No left turn signal
    The driver makes a left turn after checking to see that there is no oncoming, conflicting traffic. There are a minimum of two signals showing no arrows at all. If a bulb burns out, a second signal will provide direction.
  • Protected Left Turn
    The driver will have a protected opportunity to make a left turn. There are two possible situations:
    • Most signals over left turn lanes have two red bulbs. If one red bulb burns out, the second bulb will continue to provide direction. There will always be a sign stating "Left Turn Signal" at this type of signal.
    • New red lights that will never entirely burn out have recently become available. These lights use LED (light-emitting diode) technology, and indicate a red arrow when left turns are not permitted. Because the red arrows will never burn out completely, a second red bulb is unnecessary. The yellow and green lights on these signals use regular bulbs, which may burn out. However, these signal indications are not as critical as the red indications. The through lane will have two standard signals in case one bulb burns out.
  • Permissive Left Turn
    If a green arrow disappears and a green "ball" remains, the driver is permitted to make a left turn after yielding to conflicting traffic.
  • Left Turns on One-Way Streets
    It is against North Carolina law to turn left on red from a one-way street onto another one-way street, even if there is no conflicting traffic. In all cases, if there is no signal indication, the driver should stop, check and wait for conflicting traffic, and proceed safely.
  • Right Turn Signal or Sign
    Drivers turning right may see a "Right Turn Signal" sign in front of the right turn lane. This means that there will be a protected opportunity to make a right turn; the driver may still turn right on red after coming to a full stop and waiting for any conflicting traffic to pass unless there is a sign saying "No Turn on Red."