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An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer revealed that Philadelphia’s traffic lights are a medley of old and new technology; many of the traffic lights stationed across Philadelphia’s intersections are prone to malfunctions and mechanical breakdowns. Malfunctioning traffic lights can be dangerous and cause car accidents. While the city has made efforts to repair and synchronize traffic lights across Philadelphia, upgrades are still happening slowly.
In 2016, Philadelphia passed legislation that would help drivers avoid traffic violations and tickets for driving through unresponsive traffic lights. The law allows drivers in Pennsylvania to treat a malfunctioning traffic light stop sign. This law comes amidst complaints from drivers that malfunctioning traffic lights would require drivers to illegally drive through the light or make an illegal, and also dangerous U-turn. Prior to the legislation, law enforcement could ticket drivers who found themselves at a malfunctioning light and were forced to make an impossible decision.
The new legislation gives drivers an opportunity to act in situations where traffic lights are defunct. It also outlines how drivers should respond to malfunctioning traffic lights.
What Should I do at a Malfunctioning Traffic light?
The most important thing to do at a malfunctioning traffic light is to exercise caution. A malfunctioning light increases your risk of getting into a car accident, and you should be especially wary of other drivers on the road.
If the light is green or yellow, you may carefully proceed. However, if you find yourself at a blinking red light, you must treat it as a stop sign. It is important to make a complete, full stop at the red light before continuing on, or you may be held liable for a traffic violation or for causing an accident. The most dangerous time to encounter a malfunctioning traffic light is at a four-way intersection. If you are stopped at a red light that doesn’t change, you may treat the intersection as a four-way stop. Follow the rules of the road and make sure you have the right of way before proceeding through a malfunctioning red light.
Remember, this rule is not a free pass to run a red light. In Philadelphia and surrounding counties, most traffic signals are timed. Even if a light takes a long time, you do not have the right to run through unless you are certain the traffic stop is malfunctioning.
Who is Responsible for A Car Accident Caused by a Malfunctioning Traffic Light?
You may be surprised to learn that you can still be held liable for a car accident if it was caused by a malfunctioning traffic light. In these conditions drivers are still expected to follow traffic laws. Failure to do so could make you liable for any car accidents that occur as a result.
Most malfunctioning traffic lights are due to weather-induced power outages or electrical defects. As a result, it’s unlikely that you will be able to blame the government for traffic stop negligence unless the city failed to investigate or fix the malfunctioning light for an extended period of time. In the event that a storm causes a malfunctioning traffic light, you will most likely not be able to hold the government responsible. Since drivers are expected to abide by the normal rules of the road, they are still responsible for any accidents caused by their negligence or recklessness. If another driver causes your accident from recklessly driving through a malfunctioning red light, they could be held liable for the damages you incur.
Determining who is liable for a car accident at a faulty traffic light can be difficult. An auto accident attorney can collect evidence and determine whether you have a personal injury claim.
I’ve Been in a Car Accident Caused by a Malfunctioning Traffic Light. Now What?
If you were in a car accident caused by a malfunctioning traffic light, it can be difficult understanding your options. You may be unsure of the terms of your insurance policies, facing medical bills, or out of work. An experienced auto accident attorney can help alleviate your concerns and advocate for you as you focus on recovery.
Attorney Crichton has experience representing victims of auto accidents in Philadelphia and surrounding counties. He has successfully reached settlements that exhausted all policy limits for many of his clients.
Call (267) 225-3317 for a personalized case evaluation with Troy Crichton, Esq today!
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