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Traffic light not working? How to proceed from the DMV

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What to do when traffic signals malfunction

By Andrew Harris

A veteran public safety professional, a 911 dispatcher reports to the Wellsville that the number of calls concerning failed traffic signals has increased. Much of that is likely from the traffic light at the intersection of Route 417 and Route 19(Bolivar Road) which has be acting up lately. The “stop lights” at that intersection are defaulting to a four-way blinking red light and many drivers simply don’t know what to do.

In general, the answer is that any intersection with a traffic light which as malfunctioned becomes a 4-Way Stop, everyone takes their turn.

One of the professionals who takes the call from drivers who are either paralyzed by the uncertainty or have narrowly missed being hit by another car, suggests this DMV guidance:

Traffic Lights

Traffic lights are normally red, yellow and green from the top to bottom or left to right. At some intersections, there are lone red, yellow or green lights. Some traffic lights are steady, others flash. Some are round, and some are arrows. State law requires that if the traffic lights or controls are out of service or does not operate correctly when you approach an intersection, you must come to a stop as you would for a stop sign. You must then continue according to the rules of right-of-way, unless you are told to continue by a traffic officer.


Here is what different traffic lights indicate:

Steady Red: Stop. Do not go until the light is green. If a green arrow is shown with the red light, you can go toward  the arrow and only if the intersection is clear.

You can make a right turn at a steady red light after you come to a full stop and yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. You can make a left turn at a steady red light when you turn from a one-way road into another one-way road after you come to a full stop and yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

You cannot make a turn at a red light if there is a NO TURN ON RED sign posted or another sign, signal or pavement marking prevents the turn. You are not allowed to turn on a red light in New York City unless a sign that permits it is posted.

The driver of a school bus containing pupils cannot turn right on any red light.

 Flashing Red: Means the same as a STOP sign: Stop, yield the right-of-way, and go when it is safe.flashing red light

Red Arrow: Do not go in the direction of the arrow until the red arrow light is off and a green light or arrow light goes on. A right or left turn on red is not permitted at a red arrow.

Steady Yellow: The light will change from green to red. Be prepared to stop for the red light.

 Flashing Yellow: Drive with caution.
 flashing yellow light

Yellow Arrow: The protection of a green arrow will end. If you intend to turn in the direction of the arrow, be prepared to stop.

Steady Green: Go, but yield the right-of-way to other traffic at the intersection as required by law (see Chapter 5).
steady green light

 Green Arrow: You can go in the direction of the arrow, but you must yield the right-of-way to other traffic at the intersection as required by law (see Chapter 5.)  
green arrow

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