House panel OKs Jones bill concerning traffic light outages

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Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan House committee has approved Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to provide clarity to drivers on what to do at an intersection when the traffic light goes out.

“It is critical that all drivers know exactly what to do at intersections, especially when the traffic light is out,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Even though most drivers are taught that an intersection with a nonworking traffic signal becomes a four-way stop, that is not true in Michigan. This legislation would clarify the law and ensure that all drivers are on the same page when they are out on our roads.”

Senate Bill 521 would require drivers to treat intersections where a traffic signal is malfunctioning as a four-way stop. The bill would not apply to traffic lights that are only active during certain periods, such as signals outside of a school or a fire department.

“It can be dangerous if two drivers have different expectations when approaching an intersection where a storm has knocked out the power and the traffic light isn’t working,” Jones said. “Treating all intersections as four-way stops if the signal is out might slow traffic a bit on major roads, but it’s worth it if it can help save lives.”

The Michigan State Police support the bill. SB 521 was approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday and now heads to the full House for consideration.