Whiplash – Michigan Changes Law on What to Do at Broken Traffic Lights
Better buckle up for this change to Michigan's driving law. The recent debate over what exactly you need to do when driving and you encounter a road with broken traffic lights has been settled.
You might have been taught that you treat such an intersection as a four-way stop. Logical? Not so fast, apparently Michigan's traffic code said that intersection became a 'right of way' crossing, meaning the driver on the lesser trafficked roadway should yield to the road with more traffic. Huh? What if the roads had equal amounts of traffic? You're on your own to figure that one out.
Even the Michigan State Police couldn't agree on what the proper course of action to take was. We reported last March that MSP officers in Grand Rapids were asking drivers to come to stop at every intersection with a broken light while Detroit-area MSP troopers were going with the right-of-way thing.
Now it's settled, thanks to a new law Senate Bill 521, which was passed and signed into law recently.
Apparently, there is some confusion among motorists about how to proceed at an intersection where the traffic light is not working. Although the Michigan Vehicle Code does not specifically address this situation, the Code does prescribe rules for yielding at intersections. In particular, the Code requires the driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection to yield the right of way to a vehicle that has entered the intersection from a different highway. When two vehicles enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left must yield the right of way to the vehicle on the right.
Evidently, some people are taught to approach an intersection with a malfunctioning traffic control signal as if it were a four-way stop, where each vehicle must come to a stop, instead of yielding as described above. In order to make these situations safer, and to prevent confusion, it has been suggested that the State codify the practice of treating an intersection with a malfunctioning signal as a four-way stop.
So there it is. Stop. Every. Time. That's the law.
BONUS VIDEOS - Moments of Michigan Nature