The Traffic Signals section provides a Regional Traffic Signal Service of design, installation and maintenance to the five Districts of Tyne and Wear:

  • Newcastle
  • Gateshead
  • Sunderland
  • North Tyneside
  • South Tyneside

We are also contracted to maintain traffic signals in:

  • County Durham
  • Darlington
  • Northumberland

We provide a 24 hours per day, 365 days a year maintenance service. We currently attend 98% of all reported traffic signal faults within 2 hours of receipt.

Reporting faults

Traffic signal faults can be reported to Envirocall by phoning 0191 278 7878. The out of hours teams are available to take these calls after 6pm and through the night.

Types of Traffic and Pedestrian Signals


Junction of College Street and St Mary's Place with traffic lights including no right turn sign

A junction is a location where vehicles on conflicting approaches are controlled by traffic signals. An example of a junction is College Street and St Marys Place near to Newcastle Civic Centre. This busy junction caters for a large number of pedestrians.

If you look closely at this location you will see a small camera on top of the right hand signal pole on the path that runs along beside the Civic Centre. The camera is called a microwave vehicle detector, its purpose is to monitor the traffic flow at this junction.

A stop line detector loop is cut into the road surface where cars stop waiting for the signals to change. The detectors described at this junction help the signals respond to the changing flow of traffic throughout the day.


The name pelican is made up of the beginning letters from 'Pedestrian Light Controlled', with the 'o' changed to an 'a' so it has the same spelling as the bird. The use of animal symbols began in 1951 with the introduction of 'zebra' crossings. The pelican is the old fashioned pedestrian crossing facility which includes the flashing amber and flashing green man. Although still being installed in the some parts of the North East this type of crossing is likely to be phased out in the future.

At the pelican crossing the traffic lights instruct the traffic when to stop and pedestrians when to cross. When the red figure shows, do not cross. Press the button on the box and wait. When the steady green figure shows, check the traffic has stopped and cross with care. If the green figure starts flashing as you are crossing, continue walking over the road. Do not start to cross when the green figure is flashing because there is not sufficient time to cross.

Puffin (Pedestrian User-Friendly Intelligent Crossing)

Puffin Crossing. Pedestrian user-friendly intelligent crossings

The puffin pedestrian crossing facility is gradually replacing pelican crossings. This type of crossing is designed to be 'user friendly' and safer than the old pelican by eliminating the 'flashing amber' period thereby removing the ambiguity from drivers and pedestrians by varying the length of crossing time to suit high or low volumes of pedestrians or slow moving pedestrians.

To drivers, the puffin appears similar to normal traffic signals; it changes from green to amber then to red and eventually to red/amber and finally back to green. For pedestrians, the green man appears for a few seconds  but as pedestrians step onto the road, overhead infra red or video imaging cameras control the length of time available to pedestrians.

An additional overhead detector monitors waiting pedestrians, if an only pedestrian decides not to cross and walks away, the demand will automatically be cancelled. This makes the puffin more efficient for traffic and for pedestrians.

Toucan (Two-Can Cross)

Toucan crossing traffic signal

A toucan crossing caters for cyclists as well as pedestrians.

The only obvious difference between this type of crossing and a puffin is the width of the crossing.

The crossing is wide to cater for cycles and has an additional green cycle optic on the signals next to the green man.


Pedestrian and horse crossing facility signal with tall pole and green horse features

A pegasus is a pedestrian and horse crossing facility which has taller poles and extra push button boxes mounted high on the pole for horse riders.

There are pegasus crossings on Benton Lane, Killingworth Way, Middle Engine Lane and Silver Fox Way in North Tyneside.


Emergency vehicle or railway crossing signal with two flashing red lights and a single amber below

A wig-wag is a vehicle or railway crossing control system. Identified by the single amber and two flashing red lights they can be found at level crossings and outside fire or ambulance stations.

Wig-wags at level crossings are generally the responsibility of the railway authority.

Page last updated: 
18 July 2014
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