Aug 31

Inoperable Traffic Lights – What Should a Florida Driver Do?


inoperable traffic lightWe have all come up on them – inoperable traffic lights due to power outages or other reasons. With Tampa Bay being in the storm season, drivers may see more of these inoperable traffic lights. What are drivers supposed to do when they approach these inoperable traffic lights? What Florida drivers are supposed to do and what they do do (yes, I said do-do) are two different things.

Florida law tells drivers what they are to do when approaching inoperable traffic lights. Florida Statute 316.1235 states as follows:

Vehicle approaching intersection in which traffic lights are inoperative.—The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection in which the traffic lights are inoperative shall stop in the manner indicated in s. 316.123(2) for approaching a stop intersection. In the event that only some of the traffic lights within an intersection are inoperative, the driver of a vehicle approaching an inoperative light shall stop in the above-prescribed manner. A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation as provided in chapter 318.

Florida Statute 316.123(2) states:

(b) At a four-way stop intersection, the driver of the first vehicle to stop at the intersection shall be the first to proceed. If two or more vehicles reach the four-way stop intersection at the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.

So, how many drivers treat these inoperable traffic lights as stop signs? How many drivers wish they could treat them as stop signs but are worried about being involved in a rear-end car accident when the person behind you doesn’t? (This happens more often than one would think. The driver that caused the rear-end car accident because of not stopping for the inoperable traffic lights would be held negligent.) Lastly, how many drivers follow the statute for inoperable traffic lights only to be stuck there because of the other drivers fail to treat it as a stop sign?

Despite the reasons not to follow the statute, all drivers should treat an inoperable traffic light as a 4-way stop sign. Failing to do so could get the driver a ticket or result in a car accident.

Drive safely and watch out for those you don’t.


Car Accident Attorney Matthew E. NoyesPersonal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. He is a named partner at the Tampa Bay law firm of Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or complete the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

  1. Elizabeth Stoughton 17 Sep 2017 | reply

    The bigger problem is with large intersections with 4 lanes of traffic in each direction. 1 right turn lane, another 2 straight, and the 4th lane for left hand turners. What do you do? It’s more complex. I had this problem several times this week. It seems that left hand turners are ignored. “4 way stop” is misleading when there’s multiple lanes like this. I would really like an answer if you have one!

  2. Hannah Fry 31 Aug 2015 | reply

    Great articles. Currently read only three, very informative. When time permits will brush up on others.

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