Without traffic signals, many drivers don't know what to do

Posted October 10, 2016

With power out in many areas in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, the traffic signals drivers depend on are offline, too.

A glance at some busy roads in Raleigh Monday showed that not every driver knew what to do when approaching a darkened signal. The rule is clear: If the light is out, treat the intersection like a four-way stop, granting right-of-way to the driver on the right.

It was anarchy on Avent Ferry Road at the intersection with Varsity Drive. Brandon Mork waited and waited to navigate the traffic on a bike.

"I'm just waiting for other cars to go through the intersection and use them as a bit of a shield," he said.

Mork was able to make it across safely.

Moments later, Cody Addington tried his luck on foot.

I see chaos," he said. "I saw a car totaled yesterday! I don't know where the police are."

Raleigh police say they don't have enough officers to direct traffic at every intersection where lights are out, so they are counting on drivers to know the law.

All vehicles should stop at any intersection where lights are out, even a major one with multiple travel lanes. The first vehicle to arrive has the right of way. If two vehicles arrive at the same time, the one to the right proceeds first.

At Avent Ferry, the drivers who obeyed the rules where hearing horn blasts from others who were not as patient.

The key, police said, is to stop then proceed slowly and safely.


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  • Matt Clinton Oct 11, 2016
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    And some people who do know better don't stop, because they know if they do they'll never get going again because they'll be the only ones stopping.

  • Kris Dawn Oct 11, 2016
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    I hope all the lights are now restored. It will be complete chaos with the school in today over there. New teen drivers, adults rushing to get to work as they fly down that road in general and college kids doing the same. That road has always been a cluster in the mornings. Hoping all the lights work today. Because WCPSS doesnt seem too concerned.

  • Fred Garner Oct 10, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    Roger that!

  • Holly Michael Oct 10, 2016
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    So let's put down what you ARE supposed to do. Treat the intersection like a 4 way stop. That simple :)

  • Ricky Parker Oct 10, 2016
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    It isn't Tht the ppl don't know,what it really is,they don't care,nor being considerate to other drivers.

  • Mike Brody Oct 10, 2016
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    Seen a few accidents because people don't understand tbe law. Heck, even some of the Wake County Sherriffs were blowing through non-working lights. If you start to slow down, people just blow their horns at you then flip you off when they go past you.

  • Bill Huntington Oct 10, 2016
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    I would like to just take a moment and THANK the entire WRAL team for their continuous coverage and informative broadcasting during this time. I know it has been said, but it bears repeating. I hope all of you at WRAL fully understand the importance of your dedication and the countless lives you have saved and helped by doing so. The all night coverage the other night proved so vital to so many people. My sister told me that her family had nothing but a radio to listen to the information, but even just that, hearing the NEWS, gave conform to her and her children in the dark, wind and blowing rain. My hats off!

  • Crystal Czeck Oct 10, 2016
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    I don't even understand why people don't know what to do. I had that problem this morning ... blown stop light and people just plowing through as if the light were green.

  • Scott Thomas Oct 10, 2016
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    "...drivers don't know what to do."

    It's funny. It's on the drivers test! :)

  • Karen Orndorff Oct 10, 2016
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    Folks don't know what to do with or without them, stop signs either.