What to Do When a Traffic Light Is Out

February 6, 2023

what to do when a traffic light is out

What to Do When a Traffic Light Is Out

It’s not uncommon for traffic lights or other signals to fail due to electrical failure, storms, fires, vandalism, crashes, or other factors. When these happen, drivers may need to take extra precautions to avoid accidents at intersections.

Treat Uncontrolled Intersections Like Four-Way Stops

When the traffic signal is out, the best way to approach the intersection is to treat it as a regular 4-way stop. This means all vehicles should come to a complete stop before taking turns, even if the lights are flashing yellow.

If you are stopped, it is important to remember to check for any other cars that are entering the intersection or turning right and left. This is especially true for intersections with multiple lanes or a high volume of vehicles.

Make sure to check for other traffic and pedestrians in all directions before turning or driving. Also, be careful of any other drivers who may not know the rules or do not follow them, as they could cause a collision that you are responsible for.


When all traffic signals are out because of an electrical power failure, you must treat the intersection as a four-way stop intersection. This means all drivers should come to a complete stop before taking turning and approaching vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians have the right of way.


Traffic Dave is on a mission to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.
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