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What Are Traffic Laws When a Stop Light Is Out in California?

Picture of traffic light

Pulling up to an intersection with a broken traffic light can be confusing. Though uncommon, traffic lights can malfunction. It’s important to know how to behave because a blacked out traffic light is no excuse to disregard traffic laws or for negligent driving.

How to Recognize a Broken Traffic Light

In most cases, you can tell that a traffic light is not working correctly by the way it looks. The traffic signal may be flashing red or yellow. In some cases, the traffic light may be blacked out. In the case of a blackout, the traffic light will not work at all and have no lights displayed on the signal.

What to Do at a Broken Traffic Light

California traffic laws control how motorists should respond at a broken traffic light:

  • Red flashing traffic light. If the traffic signal is flashing red, drivers should treat it the same as a stop sign.
  • Yellow flashing traffic light. If the traffic signal is flashing yellow, drivers should slow down and yield.
  • Blacked out traffic signals. If a traffic signal is out of order, drivers should stop and treat it as if there are stop signs in all directions. Whichever driver approached the signal first determines the right-of-way. If two vehicles stopped at the same time, as it would be at a stop sign intersection.

What Not to Do at a Broken Stoplight

An intersection with a broken traffic light can increase the chance for a car crash. When you come across a broken stoplight, don’t speed through the intersection. It is dangerous and against the law. Unfortunately, many fatal crashes have occurred because of speeding through blacked-out traffic signals. If a traffic signal is out of order, you should stay alert and proceed through the intersection with care.

Injured in an Accident Caused by a California Traffic Light?

If you have been injured in a car accident, speak with a lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Depending on your case, another driver or the city may be responsible for your injuries. Call Needham, Kepner & Fish at (406) 956-6949 or contact us online for a free consultation. Our attorneys are available to discuss your case.

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