Most people run into times when they’re driving and approach a malfunctioning traffic light. The light may stay red permanently with no sign of changing, start flashing or have one of the bulbs go out. These malfunctions can make driving through an intersection dangerous, which is why it’s important to know how to proceed.
A quick refresher on how to handle these infrequent occurrences can help you stay safer out there on the roads.
What should you do if you approach a malfunctioning traffic light?
If you approach a malfunctioning traffic light, slow down and take careful stock of the situation. Then proceed accordingly:
- If the light is solid red, come to a complete stop. If you’re sure the light is broken and won’t change, wait until there is no traffic approaching before proceeding through the light. If more than one vehicle is at the light, you proceed the same way you would at a four-way stop (meaning that the vehicles should proceed according to the order of their arrival).
- If the light is flashing red, you still need to come to a complete stop. If the lights to the right or left are flashing yellow, then those vehicles have the right of way. Otherwise, treat the area as a four-way stop in the same manner as mentioned above. If there is no power, slow down and prepare to stop.
- If you approach the intersection at the same time as another vehicle, the vehicle on the left must yield the right-of-way. Left turns also yield to any oncoming traffic.
In all cases, it’s wisest to slow down and exercise an abundance of caution. You need to watch for pedestrians and bicycles, particularly if the power is out on the lights and it is dark outside. Applying these basic rules will help you avoid a collision.
Unfortunately, there’s always going to be someone who hot-rods their way through an intersection. If you end up in a crash with a negligent driver, find out more about your right to compensation for your losses.