Lack of Knowledge and Highway Accidents
Recent storms, tornados, and high winds in Northwest Louisiana have caused a great deal of damage and power disruption in the area. The annoyance of going multiple days without power was compounded by the number of traffic lights, signals, and other infrastructure damaged or unpowered by the weather. Although lives and property were lost due to the storm, unfortunately, this was compounded by accidents on highways as drivers ran through intersections not knowing the proper procedures for inoperable lights.
Intersections and Inoperable Lights
The Shreveport & Bossier City communities have been wrestling with the issue on online forums and social media. Many residents did not know the underlying laws governing the situation leading to confusion among travelers, thus increasing the risk of accident and injury at intersections. As a result, there was a noticeable rise in minor car accidents and incidents of road rage at major intersections.
We hope this blog helps everyone understand the Louisiana statutes so we can all be safe if faced with a similar circumstance in the future.
The law that governs this situation is Louisiana Revised Statute 32:232.1 (A). The law states the following.
32:232.1. Vehicle approaching an intersection in which traffic lights are inoperative.
A. Unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer, when a traffic control signal is not functioning at an intersection, and the signal lights are completely dark, the intersection shall revert to an all-way stop, and traffic shall proceed in accordance with the provisions of R.S. 32:121(A).
Simultaneous Arrival of Vehicles
However, if two vehicles arrive at the same time, then the vehicle on the right goes first.
32:121 Vehicle approaching or entering an intersection
When two vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right of way to the vehicle on the right.
How to Navigate Inoperable Traffic Lights
In a nutshell, treat intersections with inoperable lights as a four-way intersection with stop signs. Unless a law officer is present to direct traffic and control an intersection, each driver should conform to these Louisiana statutes. Give pedestrians the right of way. The first to arrive is the first to enter the intersection after coming to a complete stop. If two vehicles arrive simultaneously, defer to the vehicles on the right and yield to their right of way. It is better to take caution, clearly signal, and take your time. Ultimately this can help reduce accidents and confusion on the road.
Be aware of your surroundings and drive safely.
It's important to remember that these are just a few of the Louisiana statutes related to inoperative traffic lights, and drivers should always consult their local authorities or state DMV for more information on navigating roads during inclement weather or power outages. Additionally, drivers should take precautions to ensure their own safety and the safety of others on the road. Drive safely!