Red Light FAQs

After how long can you go through a red light if it doesn’t turn green?

Please do not do this

If your light is staying red forever, it probably means you aren’t on the traffic sensor and you may need to roll forward or roll back a bit.

Traffic lights don’t just randomly change; they change because someone wants them to.  These sensors let the intersection lights know that you exist, so make sure you stop in the correct stopping position over the sensor.  

If you stop too far forward, or too far behind the sensor, your traffic light might stay red forever. If this happens, you may need to roll forward or backward just a bit.

Today I waited unnecessarily in a left-turn lane

Spread the word! It seems I will keep rambling about traffic sensors until the majority of people understand that they exist. If your traffic light is staying red forever, it probably means one of the vehicles needs to move forward or move backward a bit so they’re on the sensor!!!!!! Spread the word, tell your friends and tell your neighbors.


If there’s no traffic, can I go through a red light?

No. This is the whole idea behind having traffic lights, isn’t it?

Even if there is no traffic, you can not go straight through a red light (unless you’re at a red light that is located somewhere other than at an intersection, and you’ve stopped first).

You can turn right on a red light after you stop if it’s safe, and if there are no turning restriction signs.

You can turn left on a red light after you stop, if it’s safe, and if you are turning onto a one-way street.

If you’re at a red light that seems to be staying red for an unreasonable amount of time, you may not be on the traffic sensor. You may need to move your vehicle forward a few inches or back a few inches to activate the sensor. But do not simply go through a red light.


Carmen became a driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, Canada and is an experienced writer, blogger, photographer, artist, philosopher, certified day dreamer and generally complicated human.

11 thoughts on “Red Light FAQs

  1. The sensors are infamous for failing to detect many motorcycles especially now since bikes continue to become lighter. My 300 will not activate 2 traffic lights in New Westminster. In fact my motorcycle instructor warned the class about this – and he’s a retired VPD Motorcycle cop. I personally just proceed through the red and if i am pulled over i hope my explanation is accepted.

  2. This answer completely forgets about the possibility of a motorist whose vehicle is too small to trigger the sensor. I’ve had to wait for many minutes at multiple lights because my vehicle wasn’t registered. I was directly on top of the sensor. What should I do?

    1. Unless you got your car from Toy’s ‘R’ Us and it takes ‘AA’ batteries, then your car is not too small for the sensors! Well you said vehicle. What kind of vehicle exactly are we talking about? Is it a bicycle?Traffic sensors were made for traffic!! You can not always see the sensors because sometimes they’re under the pavement. You might still not quite be in the correct position. No offence but are you sure you know exactly where your car is on the road? A lot of people aren’t exactly quite where they think they are.

      Read more here:

      1. motorcycle. i have a light near a friend’s house that consistently doesn’t recognize my bike and I usually end up waiting for a break in traffic and running the red. I know exactly where my bike sits on the road, and it didn’t come from toys’r’us. how about a response that answers the original (and valid) question?

        1. Sorry wasn’t trying to be rude just meant that they’re supposed to work, even for motorcycles. Have you seen this clip made for bicycles but may be helpful to you?

          Can you actually see the sensor loop on the pavement or is it hidden under? Which intersection is this, perhaps I can investigate?

          1. Klahanie Drive and murray st in Port moody. Klahanie meets Murray in 2 places and both sensors seem pretty useless.

            1. Hmm, and are you driving onto the sensor like how the bike does in the vid?

              1. Placing magnets on and under a bike or small or plasticy car will greatly help on the loops. They work on magnetic principles as do metal detectors. The magnets will help create a larger field the loops can sense better and faster, therefore, triggering the light faster.

Comments are closed.

Recent Posts