We’ve all tried to get somewhere in a hurry and complained about hitting every red light. No matter our destination, traffic lights are often seen as an annoyance, slowing down our journeys and causing us stress. 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.
If you’ve ever come across a faulty traffic signal, you’ll know how much of a drain on your time they can be, but they can also pose a danger to road users. 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.
This is a nationwide issue according to figures. 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.
We’re here to take a look at how to respond when you encounter a faulty traffic signal, so you’re able to handle the situation in a calm, careful and informed manner.
If you find yourself driving towards a traffic light that you suspect may be working incorrectly, you should bring your vehicle to a full stop – acting as though you were driving towards a red light. 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.
Judge the situation
In situations such as this, it’s imperative that you use your own common sense and judge the situation carefully. 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’s answer isn’t the most scientific, it is thought that you should wait at least four minutes before moving your vehicle on.
Report the problem to your local authorities
Faulty traffic signals can pose a serious issue, and if you do come across one, it’s best to report it as soon as it’s safe to. 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.
Faults such as these slow down drivers, leading to increased traffic and 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.