Caltrans News Flash #226 – Caltrans Informs Motorists How to Respond When Traffic Signals Lose Power


District: Headquarters
Contact: Alisa Becerra
Phone: (916) 995-7756

SACRAMENTO — Whether it's high winds that can cause power lines to spark or triple-digit temperatures adding demand to the state's power grid, Californians face losing power.

Caltrans operates nearly five thousand traffic signals statewide, and the department wants to educate motorists about how to navigate traffic signals that are flashing red or without power. When traffic signals lose electricity, they automatically switch to batteries. When this happens, they flash red, then go dark after several hours.

In this News Flash, we will show you the safest way to navigate an intersection during times with no power and also highlight Caltrans' use of retroreflective bordered backplates—yellow reflective strips placed around the perimeter of traffic signals that increase their visibility in both bright or dark conditions, as a driver may experience during morning hours, at night, or during a loss of power.

According to studies conducted by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), this countermeasure accounts for a 50 percent reduction in collisions occurring late at night or early morning and 36.7 percent decrease in those collisions resulting in injury. Caltrans recently released a new policy that requires installation of retroreflective backplates on all traffic signals maintained by the department that can accommodate these backplates. 

Caltrans News Flash #226

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This News Flash is the 226th in a series of videos highlighting Caltrans' activities that present the wide-ranging and critical work that Caltrans does to enhance California's economy and livability. To see more of these and other videos, search for #CaltransNewsFlash on Twitter or visit the Caltrans News Flash page.