We’ve all complained at some point or another about ‘hitting every red light on the way’. It doesn’t matter where we’re going, we usually want to get there as quickly as possible and traffic lights can be seen as the main obstacle slowing us down. But, actually, these signals are there to aid us with the safe flow of traffic — busy dual carriageways and roundabouts require traffic lights so we can avoid chaotic queues.
Have you ever encountered a faulty traffic signal? If so, you’ll know that this is not only a bigger drain on your valuable time but can also be a safety hazard. In some places, roads are closed off because of faulty signals posing such a threat to the public’s safety, while in others temporary lights are put in place.
Data shows that this issue is nationwide. Between 2010 and 2016 there were 120 road traffic accidents in Merseyside alone because of faulty traffic lights, with Surrey reporting over 140 car crash injuries during the same period for the same reason. Of course, there can be many reasons why signals fail, from a faulty electric connection to slugs — a trail left by the animal caused a short-circuit in the West Midlands, resulting in a teenager’s death — so it’s important to know how to deal with such a situation.
In this article, we look at what to do when you come across a faulty traffic signal to ensure that if it does happen, you’re able to make an informed decision and handle the situation in the safest possible way.
If you’re driving and find yourself approaching a faulty traffic light, you should act as though you are approaching a red light and bring your vehicle to a full stop. Then, it’s important to follow the right-of-way laws. The Highway Code states that you should treat the situation in the same way you would an unmarked junction and proceed with great care. The will help to ensure both you and your fellow road users can carry on your journeys safely.
Use your own judgement
It might seem like an obvious statement, but in a situation like this, it’s key to use your own judgement and common sense. In an article on the BBC, Vince Yearly of the Institute of Advanced Motorists said: “It’s a tricky one because the absolute copper-bottom rule is that the red light must be obeyed. However, if you’ve been sitting there for a few minutes and it’s become fairly obvious the lights aren’t changing then you’ve got to reconsider.
“So, if you can see ahead of you quite clearly and ideally see the other set of lights or the back of them, I would lower my window a little to hear if there’s anything moving in your vicinity. Then put your lights on and very tentatively and cautiously start to make your way forward.”
Although Yearly does admit that his answer isn’t scientific, it has been advised that you should wait for at least four minutes before deciding to move on.
Contact the local authorities to report it
If you do come across a faulty traffic signal, you should report it as soon as you have a safe opportunity to do so. The reason these signals are in place are to stop traffic where it may not have originally stopped, so if they aren’t working, chances are that people won’t stop. This can be extremely dangerous, so it’s important that the those who take care of the roads know about any issues.
You can contact your local authorities to inform them about your discovering by telephone or online alternatives.
Such faults are a danger to road users and can slow us down, leading to traffic build up and increasing the risk of accidents. With so many cars on the roads nowadays, it’s best to report problems as soon as you can – following these steps will help to limit any disruption and keep you safe on your journeys.