Jones seeks to clarify law concerning traffic light outages

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — What happens to an intersection when the traffic light goes out? It becomes a four-way stop, right? Wrong, says Sen. Rick Jones.

“People need to know exactly what to do if a traffic light is out,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Although most Michigan drivers believe that an intersection with a nonworking traffic signal becomes a four-way stop, that is not actually true in our state. The current law is very confusing and needs to be made clearer so that all drivers are on the same page.”

Under current Michigan law, drivers should treat each intersection with a downed traffic light as a four-way yield rather than a four-way stop. If two vehicles enter an intersection on different roads at the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right-of-way and the vehicle on the left should yield.

Jones has introduced Senate Bill 521 to require drivers to treat intersections where a traffic signal is malfunctioning as a four-way stop.

The legislation would not apply to traffic lights that are only active during certain periods, such as signals outside of a school or a fire department.

“This is about ensuring our roads are as safe as possible, especially during power outages after a storm,” Jones said. “Treating all intersections as a four-way stop if the signal is out might slow traffic a bit on major roads, but if it can help save lives, it’s worth it.”

The Michigan State Police support the bill.