Thursday, August 6, 2020

Connecticut law on traffic signal outages


Connecticut law changed in 2021!

Sec. 14-299b. Inoperative traffic control signal. The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection controlled by a traffic control signal that is inoperative shall stop such vehicle and proceed in the same manner as though a stop sign were facing in each direction at the intersection, unless otherwise directed by a police officer. Violation of this section shall be an infraction.

Public Act 21-61, Effective 1 October 2021
Connecticut law reverts to the general right of way rule, as of 2018 it does not treat traffic or signal light outages as a four-way stop: 

 Many States require drivers to come to a full and complete stop at a dark signal. The presumption is that there has been a power outage at the intersection. Currently, Connecticut does not have any regulations that require a motorist to stop at a dark signal. 

1) That also answers the question of portable stop signs.  They MUST NOT be used at traffic signals which are out UNLESS the traffic signal when it is restored will default to a all-flashing-red allowing for the temporary signs to be removed before the light is restored to a normal cycle.

2) Thinking of a scenario where understanding the law is important and could put a third party at risk,  while I'm not a lawyer this is how I think things would play out:

Vehicle 1 is on a intersecting highway and stopped.

Vehicle 2 is travelling in the right lane on a non-divided, four-lane highway with two lanes of traffic in either direction, approaching with Vehicle 1 on the right.  Because Vehicle 1 is stopped, they have yielded the right of way.  (Vehicles yield to the vehicle approaching an intersection without a stop, yield, or working traffic signal when the vehicles would otherwise enter the intersection at approximately the same time.)

Vehicle 2 stops because the driver erronously believes signal lights revert to four-way stops.

Vehicle 3, which was hidden from view of Vehicle 1 by Vehicle 2, is following the general right-of-way rule is proceeds as normal.

Vehicle 1 seeing Vehicle 2 slowing and presuming they will come to a stop proceeds into the intersection and is struck by Vehicle 3.  

Whose at fault?  While 3 may have some fault under a general duty of "due regard" I would expect that the folks who did not follow the law and instead treated the intersection as a four way stop would be most at fault.

(Following that traffic lights do not revert to a four-way stop, the general right of way rule only applies to vehicles on public highways -- a vehicle on a driveway such as the exit from a typical shopping center must always yield to traffic on the highway).

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