Rock Talk

How to Handle an Unlit Traffic Signal

Last updated on November 12, 2019 at 01:20 pm

Power outages are a fact of living just about anywhere. If you happen to be on the road when power goes out, be extra cautious! It can be stressful and confusing if you pull up to a busy intersection only to find an unlit traffic signal — what do you do? Who has the right of way?

It’s important that we all get on the same page to minimize the danger when navigating affected intersections.

Authorities in many, but not all, states advise that intersections with an unlit traffic signal should be treated as four-way stops. According to the “Unlit Signal” section of New Jersey’s Driver Safety manual:

Stop if a signal is unlit and no police officer or other person is directing traffic. Yield to traffic approaching from right and left. Proceed only when clear.

Massachusetts offers similar guidance on handling an unlit traffic signal. They tell drivers: if a traffic light is out, treat the intersection as a four-way stop. Ditto for Pennsylvania (page 8).

Pennsylvania authorities have additional tips on how to properly handle a four-way stop: Traffic from all four directions must stop. The first vehicle to reach the intersection should move forward first. If two vehicles reach the intersection at the same time, the driver on the left yields to the driver on the right.

The bottom line: if you come to an unlit traffic signal, remember to come to a complete stop, and never assume that a driver approaching from your right or left will come to a stop. Many drivers are distracted, and others may not recall the correct way of handling an unlit signal, or just choose to do their own thing entirely.

Plymouth Rock Assurance wants you to keep this important information in mind and spread the word so we can all make it to our destinations safely. If you happen to get in a fender-bender, here’s what to do after an accident.

Click here for more information about insurance in your state.

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