What To Do When Traffic Lights Are Out

Maryland drivers who fail to stop and check for pedestrians at nonfunctioning traffic signals face larger fines and points on their licenses.

Last night's lightning storm has knocked out traffic lights at multiple locations around the state. File|Patch
Last night's lightning storm has knocked out traffic lights at multiple locations around the state. File|Patch

Last night’s powerful lightning storm knocked out traffic signals in scattered areas and Maryland drivers need a refresher course in what to do when they come to an intersection with no working traffic lights.

A law that took effect Oct. 1, 2012, requires a driver approaching a nonfunctioning traffic signal from any direction at an intersection to stop at a clearly marked stop line, before entering any crosswalk or before entering the intersection.

After stopping, the driver must yield to any vehicle or pedestrian in the intersection and remain stopped until it is safe to enter and continue through the intersection.

Any driver caught disregarding these rules could face a fine of $90 and two points. If the violation contributes to a crash, the fine is $130 and three points.

Baltimore Gas & Electric reports thousands of power outages Thursday morning, with locations ranging from Annapolis to Bel Air to Baltimore and Crofton.

In the DC area, Pepco’s outage map showed small numbers of outages in Montgomery County, with more service problems across Prince George’s County.

Maryland State Police say a flashing traffic light does not mean the light is nonfunctioning—even if it normally operates green, yellow and red lights. Drivers are supposed to follow existing laws regarding flashing lights, which are to slow down if it's yellow or stop if it's red.

If drivers come to an intersection where a police officer is directing traffic, they should obey the officer, regardless of the signal indicated on the light.

jag June 19, 2014 at 10:37 PM
It's really remarkable how many people are horrific drivers. Self-driving cars can't get here soon enough.
Veronica Pond June 20, 2014 at 02:00 PM
PANIC! Because of a traffic signal out due to violent rain, I was involved in an accident that not only cost me my first car (and it was my first accident too), it left me severely scarred. Now, I approach a non working traffic signal and proceed through with my flashers on and honking the horn.
Mike Brown June 20, 2014 at 03:11 PM
jag; I believe self driving cars will have some initial security concerns.
Paul F June 20, 2014 at 05:46 PM
I believe it states that under Maryland traffic laws you must act as if the intersection at a non-working traffic light is a 4 way stop and as such like any other 4 way stop the vehicle on your right has the right-of-way. All pedestrians have the right-of-way at any crosswalk
HTHS Mom July 16, 2014 at 07:57 AM
Law enacted in 2012? Seems to me that this was a law when I learned to drive in the 80's.


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