Traffic lights are models of silent efficiency, helping motorists cross otherwise dangerous intersections with confidence and ease.
The signals are universal, known by everyone from young school children to experienced drivers. Red means stop and green means go, repeating in an endless cycle day or night. But as a driver, do you know what to do when that cycle is interrupted by a traffic light malfunction?
Traffic lights not working
In the event of a complete failure, when no traffic lights are illuminated, drivers are expected to treat intersections as 4-way stops.
- Bring your vehicle to a complete stop, look both ways and then proceed when it is safe to do so.
- If 2 vehicles approach the intersection from different roadways at the same time, the driver on the left must yield the right-of-way to the vehicle to his or her immediate right.
Flashing red light
Treat the intersection as a 4-way stop if the malfunctioning traffic light is flashing red in all directions.
- Stop your vehicle before the crosswalk or white stop line and wait until it's your turn to proceed.
- Remember to look both ways and keep an eye out for other vehicles failing to stop at the light.
Flashing yellow light
Inoperable traffic lights may also flash yellow. This is a warning for drivers to proceed with caution.
- Stay alert and look both ways before entering the intersection.
Police officer at intersection
In order to prevent collisions and maintain traffic flow, police officers are sometimes posted at malfunctioning traffic lights. In these cases, always follow the instructions of the officer.
Remember the rules
Protect yourself by staying attentive behind the wheel. Obey traffic signals when they're working properly and know the rules of the road when they aren't. It's an easy way to help keep everyone on the road safe.