When the lights are out, just stop

TUPELO – When bad weather rolls in sometimes traffic lights go out, confusing many people as to who’s turn is it to go.
During a serve thunderstorm Friday, Terence Conley drove down West Main Street and noticed several traffic lights weren’t working. Conley said as he approached Lumpkin Avenue, several cars were sitting at the inoperable light. After slowing down to nearly a complete stop, Conley said he eased through the light when the cars on the off street didn’t move.
Even though he said he knew how to navigate through the situation, not knowing if the other motorists did made him nervous and that much more cautious.
“I knew I had the right-of-way because I was on a main street,” said Conley. “But I couldn’t risk running through the light and someone pulling out in front of me because they didn’t know what to do. The past couple of weeks this has happened at least twice and I feel it’s an accident waiting to happen when people don’t know how to deal with it.”
Tupelo Police Maj. Jackie Clayton is commander of the patrol division. He said Conley did the right thing both by going through and by being cautious in doing so.
“It’s always good to drive defensively,” said Clayton. “We want people to be safe on the roads. The rule when a traffic light is out is to treat it like a four-way stop in most cases. If people do that they should be fine.”
Clayton said if everyone stops at the light at the same time then the person at the right has the right-of-way. Things work a bit differently at flashing lights.
The person sitting at the red flashing light is supposed to stop and the person facing the yellow flashing light is supposed to drive slowly through it.
Main right-of-ways like Gloster and Main Street always have the right-of-way over smaller streets like Lumpkin and Thomas, according to Clayton. But when two main right-of-ways like Main Street and Gloster Street intersect like at Crosstown, the four-way stop rule applies if the traffic light is out.

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.

Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal