New York State Local Technical Assistance Program

Flagging, Equipment and Proceedures


Flagger stopping traffic using hand signal and red stop sign

Flagging is a very important and demanding job whether it be in a work zone, during utility installation or repair, or during an emergency road hazard situation. Flaggers should only be used when required to control traffic. Flaggers protect workers, emergency repair and rescue personnel, and the traveling public. It is unfortunate and sometimes disastrous that too often flagging is assigned to unmotivated or untrained people. Supervisors may assume that everyone knows how to flag when, in fact, road workers need to be trained to be effective flaggers.

Flaggers need the proper attitude, the proper equipment; and proper training. Proper attitude includes being:

To maintain attention level and alertness, it is important to relieve flaggers regularly. Flagging shifts should not last more than two hours.

Proper equipment

The stop/slow paddle is the preferred device and should be used wherever practicable.

The signal flag should be used only in emergency situations, in cases where control with a single flagger makes the use of a stop/slow paddle impractical, or at locations where speeds and/or volumes are low. Many local agencies still use flags to control traffic. New equipment should include the recommended stop/slow paddles.

Proper Training

The first rule of flagging is do not stand in the travel lane! The proper place to stand in order to stop traffic is at the right shoulder of the road. That way, if the driver doesn't see the signal to stop or slow down, the flagger won't get hit. Flaggers should always have an escape route. It is preferable for drivers to hit traffic cones and stop in the buffer area than to hit the flagger. Make sure that the sight distance is long enough to allow drivers time to see and react.

It is important to train all flaggers to adhere to standard signals. Non-standard actions will confuse drivers.

To Stop Traffic

To Release Traffic

To make sure drivers see your flagger, remember these tips. Flaggers should...

Make sure that flaggers have a good escape route in case a driver fails to stop. After they get out of the way, they can use an air horn to alert the other workers.

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This work by the Cornell Local Roads Program (CLRP) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.