In a prior blog post, we reviewed a statute regarding an offense on interfering with a traffic control signal. One question I also often receive asks, what is the exact procedure when a traffic light is out and only flashing either red or yellow? Some people believe you treat it as a four way stop while others think that if it seems inoperable, you treat it as a yield signal.
KSA 8-1510 answers the procedure in Kansas for flashing traffic control signals. This statute makes the procedure fairly simple. If the device is flashing red, it is treated as a four way stop for all vehicles. If it is flashing yellow, it is treated as a yield where vehicles can proceed without stopping, but must use caution and yield. I believe if no color is flashing, there may then be a requirement to treat the signal as a four way stop, but it is not covered in this statute. This is likely the best way to proceed from a safety standpoint as well.
This statute might be tricky for prosecutors if dealing with a traffic signal that was out of power or otherwise inoperable. You would need proof that the driver was at the intersection at the time the signal was not working and they did not conform to the rules in this statute. Eye witness officer testimony likely would suffice, however.
For defense counsel, a showing that the signal was not clearly flashing one light color or another might provide some defense. As stated earlier, however, it is always advisable to treat any intersection with signals that is not properly working as a four way stop.
Until next time, drive safe!