Traffic tip: If lights are out, intersection becomes 4-way stop

Feb. 19, 2011 at 6 p.m.
Updated Feb. 18, 2011 at 8:19 p.m.

By Julian HuertaThis week's traffic law is found in The Texas Transportation Code, section 544.007

Sec. 544.007. Traffic-Control Signals In General.

(This is just section (I) of this traffic law dealing with a driver facing a traffic control signal not working basically as one approaches a signal)

(i) An operator of a vehicle facing a traffic-control signal that does not display an indication in any of the signal heads shall stop as provided by Section 544.010 as if the intersection had a stop sign.

Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1325, Sec. 19.04, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

(Section 544.010 referred to in the above law governs stop signs and yield signs)

Why the emphasis on this particular traffic law?

Many times, people don't realize that this situation - in which the signal lights are completely out at an intersection - merits a complete and total stop before proceeding through the intersection.

Confusion on how to handle an intersection with signal lights completely out, often leads to many cell phone calls to the 911 center about near crashes. Most times an officer is dispatched to take over traffic control because of the confusion when this situation occurs. The intersection should be treated as a four-way stop.

Is this really a legal/valid reason to be stopped?

Yes. It is a safety issue for the motorist on the roadway when people do not comply, or are not aware of what to do. As defined by the Texas transportation code, the officer would be within his authority to affect a stop and take whatever enforcement action that particular officer deems appropriate. Remember, traffic enforcement is about correcting driving errors through issuing of warnings and citations as a means of education to help assure a safe driving environment for everyone.

If you have a traffic law question, contact Sgt. Julian Huerta, Victoria Po lice Department Traffic Safety Unit, 361-485-3700.



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