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Driving Tips: Traffic Light Malfunctions

Driving Tips: Traffic Light Malfunctions
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by Bob Poliquin, Managing Editor ~

Local Facebook sites, like ours in Indian Land, regularly host a thread on driving. We all have our peeves. My personal peeve is directionals. Whether it’s changing lanes or making a turn – use your turn signal, people. And for my friends and neighbors in Sun City, if you use your turn signal, whether it be in your car of golf cart, turn them off after the turn. [FYI for you youngsters. It isn’t that we oldsters forget to turn off our signal; we can’t hear it clicking.]

We at Charlotte Seniors are doing a series on a few of the common driving peeves in our community. Let’s see if the law speaks to these peeves or if we need to figure them out ourselves.

Traffic light malfunctions: The law does speak to this issue. If a traffic light is malfunctioning, treat the intersection like a four-way stop. But how seldom we see this. There are two common arguments against stopping: 1. The car behind me will run into me. 2. If I stop to let the other people go, then they will start barreling through the intersection, and I won’t get my turn.

However, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety reminds drivers of the following procedures when encountering a stop light that is not operating correctly:

  • No signal lights: lights should be treated as a four-way stop.
  • Flashing red: lights should be treated as a stop sign.
  • Flashing yellow: Drivers should proceed with caution only when traffic permits.

It isn’t that often that traffic lights go out or malfunction, maybe a few times a year when the power goes out during a storm. Generally, I try to avoid driving in that weather, but when I can’t avoid it and a light is out, I slow to a stop at these intersections, making sure the traffic around me sees what I’m doing and also making sure that cross traffic isn’t plowing through the intersection. These are times for extra caution and for extra graciousness. And remember, just because you have stopped and have the right of way, that doesn’t give you the right to proceed and cause an accident. Extra caution and extra grace gets everyone home safely.