Red Light/Green Light

MACON, Ga. — If you’ve ever been in Downtown Macon late at night or early in the morning, you may have wondered why the traffic lights flash red.

The red lights downtown flash from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Monday through Sunday. The lights flash at downtown intersections and create four-way stops. This system helps move traffic through town more efficiently during light traffic hours.

“By flashing, it turns the intersection into a four-way stop, so, if there is no opposing traffic, vehicles can ensure the right-of-way and proceed through the intersection,” said Nigel Floyd, Macon-Bibb traffic engineer.

The downtown traffic lights are on a grid system. This means that the lights are pre-timed and not triggered by sensors in the ground that detect the presence of a vehicle like in many other cities.

“The signals are not actuated by vehicle presence; therefore, they are set for a certain time in a cycle. This causes vehicles at night to sit and wait a cycle with no opposing traffic,” Floyd said.

According to Floyd, the flashing light system has been in place since early 2000, but the lights flashed even earlier then that.

Motorists driving downtown during these late night hours experience less frustration and consume less fuel because of the flashing light system. The system reduces vehicle delay and idling time.

It may come as a surprise, but there aren’t many negatives to having the system in place.

“We don’t see more accidents nor have we issued citations for motorist failing to stop,” said David Davis, Macon-Bibb sheriff.

While the flashing lights can be confusing to some motorists who don’t understand the system, overall the flashing light system has proven to be beneficial to the downtown area.

“We have not experienced any negative effects from having the lights act in this manner,” Davis said.