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What To Do When Traffic Lights Are Out In Michigan

July 18, 2023 by Steven M. Gursten

What To Do When Traffic Lights Are Out?

It is important to know what to do when traffic lights are out at an intersection in Michigan. State law requires that drivers treat it as a 4-way stop, which means stopping before entering the intersection, following the right-of-way rules and exercising “ordinary care” as you drive through the intersection.

Do you know what to do when traffic lights are out at an intersection in Michigan?

According to Michigan law this is what you do when traffic lights are out at an intersection that you are approaching: stop before entering the intersection; yield the right of way to vehicles that will be an “immediate hazard” to you; and “exercise ordinary care” when you do drive through the intersection. (MCL 257.649(4))

In other words, according to the Michigan State Police, when the signal are not working at an intersection, drivers are required to treat the intersection “as a four way stop.”

Michigan law on what to do when signals are not working at an intersection

Michigan law specifically states that when an intersection’s signal shows “no colored lights or colored lighted arrows, exhibits a combination of colored lights or colored lighted arrows that fails to clearly indicate the assignment of right of way, or the signals are otherwise malfunctioning,” then the “driver of a vehicle approaching” the intersection must do all of the following:

  • “Stop at a clearly marked stop line, or, if there is no clearly marked stop line, stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or, if there is no crosswalk, stop before entering the intersection.”
  • “Yield the right of way to all vehicles in the intersection or approaching on an intersecting road, if those vehicles will constitute an immediate hazard during the time the driver is moving across or within the intersection.”
  • “Exercise ordinary care while proceeding through the intersection.” (MCL 257.649(4))

What are the right-of-way rules when traffic lights are out at an intersection in Michigan?

According to Michigan law these are the right-of-way rules when traffic lights are out: (1) approaching drivers must yield the right of way to drivers who have already entered the intersection; and (2) drivers must yield the right of way to the vehicle on their right when they both enter the intersection simultaneously from different streets. (MCL 257.649(1) and (2))

The old law on what to do when signals aren’t working

Prior to 2018, Michigan law did not specifically address the situation where the signals at an intersection were not working or malfunctioning. This led to confusion and misinformation for drivers. Lawmakers provided the rules stated above in Public Act 109 of 2018, which took effect July 23, 2018.

Injured in a car accident at an intersection when traffic lights are out in Michigan? Call the auto accident attorneys at Michigan Auto Law

Intersection car accidents are unfortunately common. If you were injured in a car accident at an intersection when the traffic lights are out in Michigan, call now (800) 968-1001 for a free consultation with one of our experienced car accident lawyers. There is no cost or obligation. You can also visit our contact page or use the chat feature on our website.

Michigan Auto Law is Michigan’s largest and most successful law firm that specializes exclusively in helping people who have been injured in auto accidents.

Our secret? Our attorneys deliberately handle fewer cases than other personal injury law firms.  This allows us to focus more time and attention on our cases.

Unlike other law firms, our attorneys are never too busy to promptly return phone calls and answer questions. 

We have more than 2,000 5-Star Reviews that reflect this care and attention to detail.

More importantly, this client-focused approach leads to better and faster settlements for our clients. Michigan Auto Law has recovered more million-dollar settlements and trial verdicts for motor vehicle accidents than any other lawyer or law firm in Michigan. We’ve also recovered the highest ever reported truck accident and car accident settlement in the state.

Call now so we can start making a real difference for you.

(Source: Michigan State Police, Traffic Laws FAQs, Rules of the Road, “How do I treat a dark traffic signal at an intersection?”)

What To Do When Traffic Lights Are Out In Michigan

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