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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Flashback to Disco At the Traffic Light

In most cities of the world, traffic lights serve to help drivers safely make their way from one destination to the next. Not in Moscow. In this city, traffic lights often seem possessed, sending strange and confusing signals to hapless motorists.


Be especially careful of their activity after a hard rain: Many start working like a special effects device in a discotheque from the 1970s. Sometimes you can see the red, yellow and green lights simultaneously lit up, other times the lights flash quickly on and off like lighting at a rock 'n' roll concert. In these situations, you are on your own: Improvise and try and stay away from the traffic police. If you get pulled over, explain the situation and hope for the best.


If you do a lot of Moscow driving, you probably already know that many right turns are regulated by green arrows and the traffic police like to trap drivers near these turns. So this is another situation where you must pay close attention to your driving.


If the traffic light has an extra box to the right or left, this is for the green arrow. When the main light turns green, this means that a driver can move straight ahead. If you want to turn right or left, wait until the green arrow in the extra box lights up. Not all traffic lights have this extra little box for the arrow, and in poor light it can sometimes be difficult to see them. But this is no excuse for the traffic police -- if you don't wait for a green arrow to make your turn, you will have to pay up.


Experienced Moscow drivers have a trick up their sleeves when the little arrow doesn't work. They just look around to find the traffic light that regulates pedestrians on the street where they are heading. If the light for the pedestrians is red, they know they can turn without hesitation.


Another frequent problem with traffic lights involves the flashing yellow lights at intersections. These flashes mean you should slow down and give way to cars approaching from the right -- they don't signal yet another nonworking traffic light.


Drivers from Europe and the United States may also be confused by the fact that all traffic lights in Moscow flash for several seconds before they change color. My only advice in this situation is simple. Be careful in front of any flashing traffic light.