What do you do if the power goes out at a traffic signal?

On Behalf of | Oct 24, 2022 | Personal Injury |

Generally speaking, traffic signals are supposed to tell you exactly when to proceed. You just drive according to the lights, progressing through that intersection when the light turns green and stopping when it turns red. It’s safer and easier than a four-way stop.

However, the system requires that the traffic signal has constant power, and that’s not a given. If there is a power outage, the light could be dark or backup power can cause it to blink. In a situation like this, what are you supposed to do?

Treat it as a four-way stop

If you do come across a dark traffic signal without any lights, do not assume that this means you can just ignore it. It is now an uncontrolled intersection. You can also sometimes find these in very rural areas. Stoplights revert to this classification with no power.

As such, vehicles turning left have to yield the right of way. Generally, cars on the left always yield to those on the right. Full stops aren’t always necessary, but they are if traffic is heavy. Drivers can take turns based on arrival time at the intersection, so they should never proceed through it without stopping unless there is no other traffic.

If the light is blinking red in all directions, what you’re supposed to do is treat the intersection as a four-way stop. Drivers in every direction have to stop and then take turns, which can slow traffic down. But this is the only safe way to navigate the intersection if the full lights aren’t working.

If the light is blinking yellow in one direction and red in the other, stops are only necessary on the side with the red light. Drivers coming the other direction should be cautious and may need to reduce speed, but they’re not obligated to stop.

Have you been injured due to someone else’s mistake?

Situations like this can lead to a lot of confusion where drivers will go at the wrong time or fail to stop entirely. If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, be sure you know how to seek financial compensation.