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In part two of safety during a power outage, Lawsuit Financial asks the questions – “Do you know what to do when you approach an intersection and the traffic light is out? Who has the right of way?”

In most states, when traffic lights go out, the intersection becomes a four-way stop.This means if the traffic signal is totally dark, all drivers are to stop at the intersection, then proceed as if the intersection had stop signs controlling all approaches. While this is not a bad idea, and most drivers do it, turning intersections into four-way stops is a common misconception in Michigan.

Under the Michigan Vehicle Code, the right-of-way rule states “when two vehicles enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver on the right has the right-of-way.” When treating each intersection with a down traffic light as a four-way stop, it only causes massive traffic back-ups at busy intersections.

Despite the law, the recent power outage in southeastern Michigan proved that some motorists will still follow the four-way stop guidelines. Does this cause more confusion and chaos? Does it lead to more collisions? While it may muck up traffic, some believe motorists are still safer when implementing a four-way stop mentality. Some have even been fighting to have the Michigan law changed.

What do you think, readers? Should intersections be treated as a four-way stop when the lights go dark?

No matter what the laws are in your state, it is important to use common sense and be a courteous driver. Always remember — safety first!

  • Enter intersections only when it is safe to do so.
  • Use turn signals to let other motorists know your intentions.
  • Use extra caution in school zones.
  • As always, yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
  • Watch out for and obey police officers directing traffic within intersections.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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