Traffic lights are one of the most important tools we have on the road. They help to control traffic and prevent us from crashing into one another. It is normal for a traffic light to be red, yellow, and green either from the left to the right or from the top to the bottom. It is also normal for some traffic lights to be steady in color while others flash; for some to be round while others are arrows.
But as the winter season is upon us, ice and snow often weigh down wires and winds often damage electrical boxes and power outages. This increasingly inclement weather often causes our traffic lights to malfunction, with lights failing to change or not lighting up at all. Unfortunately, many people don’t know what to do when a traffic light malfunctions and as a result end up involved in a car accident. This is why it’s so important to understand how to react.
According to New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1117, if a motorist is approaching a traffic light that is malfunctioning, they should treat the light as a stop sign. This means that they should come to a full stop when they approach the light – unless, of course, they are directed to proceed by a police officer.
After they have come to a complete stop, the motorist must follow all applicable right-of-way laws. This means that after a motorist stops, he or she must yield to any other vehicle that has already entered the intersection. The motorist should also be sure to yield to any other vehicles that pose an imminent danger.
It’s important to understand that just because a traffic light isn’t working properly, it does not allow for a motorist to ignore it. Rather, as mentioned, a driver must come to a complete stop, as he or she would with a stop sign, and should continue once it is his or her lawful turn and he or she is safe to continue. If a motorist does not follow New York’s Traffic Law Section 1117, a police officer can stop them and he or she can face a traffic ticket with a fine of $150 and 3 points on his or her driver’s license.
There is no doubt that a malfunctioning traffic light can create a very dangerous situation in which there is a great risk of collision among vehicles. Therefore the most important thing is to proceed with caution whenever approaching a malfunctioning traffic light.
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