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Traffic Signals & Roundabouts

Traffic Signals

Traffic signals are usually installed where vehicle traffic and pedestrian volumes are too heavy for a two or four-way stop. We use them in locations where they can improve traffic flow and road safety.

To report a broken traffic signal, or any other problem regarding traffic signals, call 604-591-4338.

Requesting a New Signal

Contact Traffic Management at for more information on traffic signals or to request a traffic signal be installed.

When we are deciding where to install a new signal, we consider:

  • Collision history: how many collisions could have been prevented by a signal.
  • Traffic volume: the total number of cars going through the intersection and how long people are waiting.
  • Side street traffic: how long cars and pedestrians on side streets are delayed.

Left Turn Arrows

Left turn arrows reduce wait time for drivers turning left, but increase waiting time for other drivers. When we are deciding where to install a left-turn arrow, we consider:

  • Collision history: how many collisions could have been prevented by a left-turn arrow
  • Left-turning traffic: how many drivers are making the left turn compared to how long it takes.
  • Left-turn capacity: how difficult it is, or how long it takes, to make the turn. We look at things like how long the green light is on and how much oncoming traffic is there.

Coordinated Signals

You'll see several green lights in a row when traffic signals are coordinated. Priority for coordinated signals is given to the rush-hour direction of traffic. We coordinate over 20 groups of traffic signals in Surrey. We group traffic signals, usually 3 to 10 lights in a group, because this helps improve the traffic the most. Traffic coordination also helps safety and reduces pollution, because drivers don't need to slow down and speed up so often.

Signal Detectors

Traffic signals in Surrey have detectors for every permitted vehicle and pedestrian. This means any vehicle or pedestrian facing a red light can use a detector to trigger a green or Walk light. In most cases, when there isn’t any traffic the vehicle signal stays green facing the main street, with the pedestrian lights in solid Don’t Walk.

Your vehicle is detected by the light using inductance loops. An inductance loop is a wire in the pavement that acts like a magnet, and when a car drives over it, the magnetic field changes and tells the signal that the car is there. In a few locations, vehicles are detected differently, like by video camera and microwave radar. If there's a problem with a detector, the signal stays green, just to make sure that anybody waiting gets a turn to go. When there's a pedestrian or cyclist at the light, using the pushbutton tells the signal to change.

We fund and put in traffic signals through the Capital Construction Program. Once we've determined that a traffic signal or left-turn arrow should be installed, we add the location to our Capital Construction Program. We prioritize the traffic light installation along with other projects in the 10-Year Servicing Plan.


Sometimes roundabouts are a better option for a location than a traffic signal for controlling traffic at an intersection. They only allow one-way traffic around a central island and cars entering the roundabout must yield to cars already in the roundabout.

Sometimes a roundabout can improve safety and traffic flow because the shape reduces speed and almost completely eliminates "T-bone" and head-on collisions.

For more information, see ICBC's Driving Tips for Roundabouts.

Contact the Transportation Planning section at or 604-591-4853 for more details on roundabouts in Surrey.