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Chicago Personal Injury Blog

Malfunctioning Traffic Signals

by Jared Staver in Auto Accidents, Personal Injury

There are numerous reasons for why a stop light will stop working or malfunction. The most common reason is the electricity goes out or one of the bulbs in the signal dies. Malfunctioning traffic signals can be hazardous and many drivers find them confusing. But there is always a way to handle the situation. Just because a stop light is out or showing a different signal than normal, doesn’t mean the rules of the road fly out the window.

If all drivers proceed with caution and follow basic rules of the road, then there’s no need for anyone to get into an auto accident.

The Rules of the Road

It may have been a while since you took driver’s education, but there are certain procedures to follow when you come to a malfunctioning stoplight.

  • Flashing yellow signal: Any yellow light means you should slow down and proceed with caution. If you are at an intersection with a flashing yellow light, stay alert of other drivers and proceed following the right-of-way rules. If there is a significant amount of traffic, it’s best to come to a complete stop before moving forward.
  • Flashing red signal: A red light always means stop. If the light is flashing, you should come to a complete stop, check traffic from all other directions, and proceed slowly when it is your turn following the right-of-way rules.
  • A stop light is completely out: If a stoplight is clearly not working, you should always come to a complete stop as if it were red. The intersection now acts as a four-way stop. Each direction of traffic behaves as if they have a stop sign. You should proceed following the right-of-way rules.

Larger intersections can become scary and complicated when the traffic lights go out. There may be multiple through lanes and turns lanes of cars. The best way to handle this type of situation is with extreme caution. Remember the right-of-way rules. Sometimes traffic will set up a pattern similar to the light, and if you pay attention, you’ll know when it’s your turn to move forward or turn.

Right-of-Way Rules

Many people – particularly new and inexperienced drivers – become confused as to when it’s their turn to go. Luckily, right-of-way rules are really about common sense and caution so they can be learned quickly.

The basic premise is to yield to other traffic in order to avoid a collision. For instance, if you come to a “T” intersection, let the traffic on the through road (the top of the “T”) go first. When all is clear, then you can turn.

When you come to an uncontrolled intersection or one with malfunctioning traffic signals, let the cars who arrived at the intersection before you go first. If you and another car came to a stop at the intersection at the same time, yield when the car is on your right. If you are to the right of the other vehicle, then you go first.

Malfunctioning Traffic Signal Accidents

Unfortunately, despite many driver’s best efforts, accidents caused by malfunctioning or defective traffic signals happen. Sometimes collisions occur because people don’t slow down or stop when they should. Other times it’s because a driver doesn’t yield to the person on their right. If the accident is caused by another driver’s negligence at an intersection, then the victim may have a personal injury claim.

Accidents can also happen because a traffic light gives conflicting signals to traffic. Each driver may be following their signal correctly but collide in the intersection. In this situation, the victims of the accident may have a case against the municipality responsible for the traffic lights.

Call a Attorney Today

If you were hurt in an accident because of a malfunctioning or defective stop light, call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 today. They will inform you of your rights and help you recover from the incident.



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