Inoperative Traffic Signals

Traffic LightWith all the power outages in the past few weeks there have been a lot of intersections where traffic lights are out. Would you please remind everyone of the 4-way stop procedure that it seems most have forgotten or never learned.

Don't Expect Others to Stop

Oddly enough, this seems to be a difficult task for many drivers. Perhaps it has been a lack of opportunity to practice the requirements that leaves them mentally unprepared to realize what is required and then do it. This creates a very dangerous situation at the intersection and the case of Stevens v Sleeman illustrates this.

What to do When the Lights are Out

The requirements are simply stated:

  • If the traffic signals are not functioning at an intersection, the driver must stop before entering the intersection.
  • If two vehicles stop at about the same time, drivers must yield to the vehicle on the right.
  • If a vehicle is already in the intersection, drivers must yield and allow it to proceed.

Know Before You Go

My personal experience is much the same as the reader who requested this article. Don't ever expect traffic to stop as required! 

Take extra time to thoroughly scan the intersection and its approaches to insure that you identify all hazards. The best "rule of thumb" here is if you can't see, you can't go!

Multi-Lane Intersections

This situation is especially hazardous because stopped vehicles can hide other traffic from you or you from other traffic. You may have to carefully creep into the intersection until you are certain that it is safe to proceed.

T-Bone Crashes

When the traffic lights are working, the side impact or T-Bone crash is most common when making a left turn. When the lights are not working being hit from either side while travelling straight through is also likely.

You and your passengers are especially vulnerable as the sides of your vehicle have the least protection in comparison to frontal or rear end crashes.

When All Else Fails

If other drivers will not give you the right of way, it may be wise to make a right turn instead. Find another nearby intersection where it is safe and then return to your original route.

... this law is based on Section 169 of the MVA.

Starting vehicle

169 A person must not move a vehicle that is stopped, standing or parked unless the movement can be made with reasonable safety and he or she first gives the appropriate signal under section 171 or 172.

Same thing goes for 4-Way Stops. So, first you gotta stop and think about who goes next.

And if exiting to the right seems safest at multilane intersections, then move or stay right where you're the least exposed to being hit on approach.