Senate approves Jones bill concerning traffic light outages

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to provide clarity to drivers on what to do at an intersection when the traffic light goes out.

“Even though most drivers are taught that an intersection with a nonworking traffic signal becomes a four-way stop, that is not true in Michigan,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “People need to know exactly what to do if a traffic light is out. This legislation will remove the confusion from the current law and ensure that all Michigan drivers are on the same page.”

Senate Bill 521 would require drivers to treat intersections where a traffic signal is malfunctioning as a four-way stop. The bill would not apply to traffic lights that are only active during certain periods, such as signals outside of a school or a fire department.

“Winter weather will soon be here, and Michigan families deserve roads that are as safe as possible — especially during power outages after a storm,” Jones said. “If one driver thinks it’s a four-way stop and another driver thinks he has the right-of-way, that’s a recipe for disaster. Treating all intersections as four-way stops if the signal is out might slow traffic a bit on major roads, but it’s worth it if it can help save lives.”

The Michigan State Police support the bill, which now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.