Handling a malfunctioning traffic signal

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by noway2, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. noway2

    noway2 Senior Member Charter Life Member

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    This forum has a lot of collective wisdom and I have a question that I haven't been able to find a satisfactory answer to. In short, is there any legal statute that defines a signal malfunctioning other than being completely inoperative (dark) whereby the intersection becomes a four way stop. Say for example, one that is failing to transition within X amount of time that is aberrant based upon experience with the signal or similar obvious malfunction.

    I have looked at the signal statues and DOT guides, but it seems as if this situation is left not covered, perhaps intentionally.

    I experience what I believe was a malfunctioning light this weekend. Basically, it failed to transition in a time period grossly in excess by several minutes of what has been my experience of roughly 15 years. Traffic was backing up significantly behind me and a car had pulled out of a plaza into the (left) lane and blocking the (right) lane which was also backing up. Finally, using a blinker, I tried to transition to the right lane as best I could (not very well) and made a right turn when there was no traffic coming in that direction. Of course, the light transitioned as I was making the right hand turn.

    What makes me suspicious about the light and the timing change (?) is that there was a cop in his car, sitting in the corner of the plaza parking lot observing the intersection.

    It caused me to once again look for legal guidance but I am coming up short.

    What says this crowd of experts?
     
  2. rdinatal

    rdinatal Better late then never...

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    Use a bull horn and yell "the light is racist, there's no black lights. BLACK LIGHTS MATTER!!!" while marching around the intersection.

    It seems to work lately... :confused:
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  3. GreatGazoo

    GreatGazoo Li'l Green Guy Supporting Member

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    Probably poaching on this thread, but I still miss my black-light poster craze. After a bit of searching, I found these two that I had amongst many others:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Brian K

    Brian K Resident Douchenozzle Charter Member Supporting Member

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    Just "Cool Hand Luke" the pole and be on your way.
     
  5. Cowboy

    Cowboy Well-Known Member

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    Send an email to DOT and ask the timing schedule for that particular intersection. DOT is the only people in charge of them and their sequences. Did you get a ticket or just saw a cop?
     
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  6. Button Pusher

    Button Pusher Well-Known Member Benefactor Supporting Member

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  7. georgel

    georgel Behind Every Blade of Grass Supporting Member

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    You know the cop had a remote for the light and was screwing with you. :D
     
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  8. Chihuahua Floyd

    Chihuahua Floyd Happy to be here

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    City streets or NCDOT, if NCDOT call or email Division office. Number can be found on ncdot.gov, if it is city streets, call city office.
    CF
     
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  9. Button Pusher

    Button Pusher Well-Known Member Benefactor Supporting Member

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    Reminds me of a traffic signal near the SHP communications center here in Raleigh, I drive home 2AM each night from work, the signal would go green and then in 5 seconds turn yellow then red. I always stopped and was prepared, you know there was always a SHP car on the corner and they would pull over any car that did not stop for it. This went on for almost a month until it was repaired. They may have gotten the quota for a full year. ;)
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
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  10. hp468

    hp468 Member Supporting Member

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    A Trooper I know told me once that they didn't have quotas, but if they did.. Quotas would be the reason he would give up his unmarked fleet. He had gone back to a marked vehicle a month or so before this convo lol.
     
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  11. premise

    premise outwardly solipsistic Life Member

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    I operate under the premise of "he who dares, wins"
     
  12. Grits

    Grits I'm a Dirt Bag. Charter Life Member

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    Wink wink. There is a quota.

    My mother was a frequent flyer with the NCHP. While paying one of her tickets she had the clerk tell her what was going where on the fine she was paying. One of the cost was going to the trooper retirement fund. This was back in the late 70s so this may not be true today.

    But you can be damn sure that there is a pecking order on who has the most citations. I knew a NC Trooper who sat on a certain city street as a favor to someone he knew. He wrote a stack of tickets. He then went to the city PD and showed them the stack and asked them to step up their enforcement. This is a true story because I heard it out of the troopers mouth myself.

    Sent from my SM-J320V using Tapatalk
     
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  13. HannibalMontana

    HannibalMontana Active Member

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    I was crossing hwy 21 on stumptown road in Huntersville late one night. It was about 1130.

    I waited at the light for about 7-8 minutes and watched the light for 21 cycle several times. There was no traffic as it was late.

    I figure the light was malfunctioning so I just treated it as a stop sign and went on thru.

    Sure enough, blue lights as soon as I crossed the intersection. Don’t even know where he came from.

    After the usual have you been drinking/any weapons/where are you going questions get asked why I ran the light. I told him it must be malfunctioning because I waited forever while the other lights cycled multiple times.

    Officer then said they had gotten complaints about that light over the past few days.

    He still wrote me a warning. Better than a ticket but I was full on “WTF YOU JUST ACKNOWLEDGED THE LIGHT IS MALFUNCTIONING”.

    Anyway, that’s what happened.

    Edit to add:

    They definitely do shady stuff to get tickets. I was test driving a customers truck in Cornelius I think i was driving thru magnolia estates. Slow, maybe 15mph, listening for a noise.

    I get pulled, officer says why did you run that stop sign? I say what stop sign?

    Anyway, he wrote me a ticket and I went to the shop and came back in my personal car. The stop sign literally was totally covered by a tree branch that was falling from a tree. Impossible to see. Cop was hiding just down the street.

    After a few pics from the drivers seat showing it was impossible to see and the cop sitting there the ticket just happened to disappear.

    LIKE WTF THATS A LEGIT HAZARD JUST FIX IT.

    It’s not about safety folks.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
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  14. hp468

    hp468 Member Supporting Member

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    Unmarked > Slick topped marked > Marked w/ Lightbar as it has been explained to me in the past.
     
  15. AR10ShooterinNC

    AR10ShooterinNC Happy to be here Supporting Member

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    Traffic enforcement is not about safety, it's about revenue generation.
     
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  16. Ferrisfan

    Ferrisfan Got here as soon as I could Supporting Member

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    After the police are defunded, you’ll get pulled over by a social worker. So you have that to look forward to.
     
  17. noway2

    noway2 Senior Member Charter Life Member

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    Just saw him, but he was sitting and positioned in a manner that makes it unlikely that he was doing anything but watching the intersection, which I thought was an odd coincidence given the different signal behavior.

    The city has a report a malfunction division, but I’m curious about the timing of that one. They also like to rely on those magnetic strips in the pavement to trigger changes and those are unreliable.

    There is another intersection where they leave it green on one road and then change it when traffic triggers the other direction. It’s befuddling because there is much more traffic from the direction that gets stopped. Wonder if the buggered up the study results.

    One morning I was stuck at that light and it didn’t trigger. Tried pulling up a bit more to try to get it to trigger. After an amount of time well in excess of the cycle time, I made sure it was clear and went through. Looked in the rear view mirror and saw I had a sheriff deputy behind me. Oops. Well, what do you know? He did the same thing. Stopped, paused, and went through.

    It just strikes me as odd that there doesn’t seem to be a statutory guideline for a malfunction other than complete outage. We’re talking about mechanical systems and they will break.
     
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  18. Stogies

    Stogies Member

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    I suppose there isn't because the definition of clearly malfunctioning would be hard to nail down. Like how many minutes does the light not cycle before it's considered down and such.
     
  19. Friday

    Friday Polite-Knock raid Charter Member Supporting Member

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    NC does have a law stating that you must treat a non-functioning stop light as a stop sign.
    This was made in response to us motorcycle guys who don't have enough mass to trigger the signal.
    Now the law specifically says motorcycles, so I don't know that this applies to cars.
    And it does say must. Probably because you know how some people are...they'll sit their dumbass right there until someone actually forces them to move.
     
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  20. noway2

    noway2 Senior Member Charter Life Member

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    I have seen that when I was looking at the statutes. I will have to look again, but as I read it, it seemed to specifically reference when they were blacked out, as you put it "non-functioning". Is non-functioning different than "malfunctioning"?

    In this particular case, it sounds like it relies on the magnetic strips in the pavement to trigger a state change. I noticed it change as I started maneuvering to go right instead of left, and perhaps this was due to my triggering the strips in the right lane. With the right lane blocked by the person pulling out of the plaza, it may have exacerbated the malfunction in that right lane traffic wasn't causing the signal to cycle. It's also possible that the signal relies on some default timing in the case of a malfunction, but if so, the timing is ludicrous.

    It's also too bad that, assuming it is what he was doing, the cop was more concerned with using it as an opportunity to issue citations than to help by directing traffic and calling for a repair crew, which I am sure also stems from his boss.

    I did report this to the two councilmen for my ward and this ward, and even mentioned that it got LE attention, but not in a good way. They sent it to the city manager, whom I think the police chief answers to. I'll probably get harassed now.
     
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  21. Button Pusher

    Button Pusher Well-Known Member Benefactor Supporting Member

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    Could be better off paying a traditional traffic ticket, these social workers have large student loans to repay.
     
  22. Jerzsubbie

    Jerzsubbie Senior Member Charter Member Benefactor Supporting Member

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    They don’t have quotas per se, however they will get in trouble for not writing enough tickets. The assumption is that people are breaking the law and driving unsafely all the time, all over the state, so if they’re not writing tickets, they’re no looking hard enough to find the violators. I guess the day traffic accidents fall to all time lows, the troopers could argue they’re still doing their job despite writing very few tickets.
    They also have a BS policy around responding to accidents. Someone must get a ticket.
     
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  23. 9outof10mms

    9outof10mms Purveyor of Professional Enginerding Supporting Member

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    There are dozens of reasons why a signal may not work:
    - detection loops in the pavement/ground got cut or otherwise messed up
    - some signals are using experimental visual detection instead of loops (CLT is one of them)...one of the biggest hurdles they face is insects blocking the camera's view
    - power flicker/failure may send the signal into flash mode or timed mode (negating the loop detectors)
    - the signals are controlled by a computer, and computers fail...albeit rarely for signals as they're incredibly redundant for obvious reasons...but it can/does happen

    Most signals in NC are maintained by NCDOT, even in many cities/towns. Only larger municipalities maintain their own signals on their streets (Charlotte, Durham, Raleigh, Concord, etc.). There is an on-call designee (for both normal hours and after hours) in each county for NCDOT for malfunctioning signals and missing stop signs. Using the contact form that @Button Pusher referenced will go straight to those assigned. Even during NCDOT's funding crisis right now, there are still essential services being performed.

    It's handy to keep the NCDOT contact form bookmarked for pretty much any issue on state-maintained roads: https://www.ncdot.gov/contact/Pages/default.aspx

    Before someone asks how to tell if it's a state-maintained road: http://ncdot.maps.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=5d3ad78971714a30be7ff97fd580e4d5
    If it shows up as pink/magenta, it's state. If not, it's either a local town, private, or still under development.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
  24. Chdamn

    Chdamn Dungeon Master Staff Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    I’m of the opinion that traffic lights are to prevent idiots from causing an accident. I, not being an idiot, obey them when convenient. But when a light is doing what you describe I will proceed when it’s safe to travel. The hell with the light.
     
  25. AR10ShooterinNC

    AR10ShooterinNC Happy to be here Supporting Member

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    Except that the police and city more than likely know when I light is not working properly and will set a ticket trap.

    I'm all for red light cameras, as long as the city doesn't mess with the yellow light timing. Many places in the past got caught adjusting the yellow light times to raise revenue. Plus in a lot of places a camera ticket was criminal or a traffic violation, it was just a civil fine, harder to contest in court.
     
  26. noway2

    noway2 Senior Member Charter Life Member

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    Which is what I suspect the cop was doing. If this is the case, then rather than being part of the solution and contributing to safety the focus was on revenue, which in my opinion is flat out wrong. When I reported this to the council reps, I mentioned that it appeared to have attracted the attention of LE, but not in a good way. They took it to the city manager, whom I believe the police chief answers to. Like I said up thread, I'll probably get targeted but it does shine a spotlight on the issue of priorities.

    Ah, but it has been shown time and again that the temptation is too great. I got caught by one on Wendover in High Point. 45 MPH road with two lanes each direction and a light at the bottom of a hill that had a less than 1.5 second yellow interval. Stopped so hard it triggered the collision sensor on the fuel pump. There is also the problem that red light cameras may reduce t-bone collisions but do increase rear ending collisions. As far as it being a civil, rather than criminal, matter that was just a loop hole to get around the "right to face your accuser" violation.[/quote][/QUOTE]
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
  27. 9outof10mms

    9outof10mms Purveyor of Professional Enginerding Supporting Member

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    In North Carolina, you are legal if you're in the intersection when the light is yellow, even if it turns red while you're still in the intersection--that's if you're not stopped and blocking traffic. In other words, if you've started your trip into the intersection while it was either green or yellow, and the light turns red before you're out of the intersection, you're technically good to go.
     
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  28. RedneckFur

    RedneckFur Smith & Wesson is a religion of peace. Supporting Member

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    There was a light in Kinston near the airport that after dark, just wouldn't change. I think the longest I ever waited at it was a solid 8 minutes at a red light. No traffic came through the intersection during that whole time. Finally just went on through. After that, I'd treat it like a stop sign after dark. No idea if it was ever fixed. This was back in 2003, and the light was like that (only after dark) for the nearly 2 years I lived there.
     
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  29. Me.

    Me. Active Member

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    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
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  30. Goofyfoot2001

    Goofyfoot2001 Member Supporting Member

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    OMG PEOPLE. CAN'T READ ANYMORE. THE RULE OF LAW IS ALL BUT DEAD. RUN THE LIGHT ALREADY.
     
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  31. BigWaylon

    BigWaylon Head philatelist Staff Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Yep...because the ticket they’ll write you is for “entering an intersection with a red light displayed in your direction of travel” or however it’s worded. I talked my way out of one in court based on that.

    Told them I saw the cop, knew I had multiple speeding tickets already, and wouldn’t have run a red light. Said it was yellow when I entered and must’ve turned red at some point while I was in the intersection. Judge said he had to give me the benefit of the doubt and case dismissed.

    That surprised me a bit because I’d sat there all day and was the very last person called. I’d pled not-guilty when they called roll that morning. And the judge had to let the person before me go free due to a technicality instead of finding him guilty of DUI.
     
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  32. VA_GENTLEMAN

    VA_GENTLEMAN Gone Galt Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    An with the COVID-19... not many people have been paying their King's toll over the past few months.

    Departments have Budgets... Budgets start with Revenue (Grant: Town, County, State, FED) + Revenue (See Above -- + Illegal Cash, Cars, etc..) - EXPENSES

    Why aren't more of the Cops out there issuing J-Walking Tickets? Bunch of Revenue walking around in Roads shouting things.

    Shoot, one cop could get 1000 tickets x $50 = $50,000 in one setting by rounding up Protestors and forming a line!

    :p
     
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  33. Ikarus1

    Ikarus1 Avtomat Krishna-kov

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    You paid the 'not guilty' tax of last on the docket. I try to avoid a courthouse at all odds unless it's imperative I smell other's body odor. And I can do that at the local big box. An attorney is basically the guy you pay to stand in line for you.
     
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  34. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Get over it, snowflake. Charter Life Member

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    Robert A. Heinlein, is that you?

    “I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” - The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
     
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  35. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Get over it, snowflake. Charter Life Member

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    Interesting...it seems this isn't covered for anything other than motorcycles in all the states I've checked.

    Also interesting is that no matter what you do, suggested or not, you may end up with a citation for it. If you back up in an attempt to trip the sensor, are you not also traveling in the wrong direction in your lane? If you go ahead and drive through the intersection, aren't you likewise running a red light, another offense for which a citation may be issued?

    I'm of the opinion not to over think the issue. If the light OBVIOUSLY isn't changing after a reasonable period of time, look both ways and drive on through.

    If you're REALLY worried about the possibility of a ticket in today's day and age, pull out your cell phone and video the light long enough to establish the fact that it's not changing.

    If you get a ticket, go back and video the light at the intersection if you have to. Because cell phones.

    But regardless, report the malfunctioning light. It needs to be fixed because malfunctioning traffic lights are a safety hazard. Then follow up on it to see if it's been fixed.
     
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  36. noway2

    noway2 Senior Member Charter Life Member

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    I ended up making a right hand turn on red at an intersection where it is permissible. As I was sitting there, watching the backup that was occurring I was thinking of an argument in terms of the competing harms standard and that making a right was the safest option to rectify the situation. Good suggestion on recording the light.

    I saw on Nextdoor this morning that the magnetic loops have been replaced with a camera based system and the person who posted this said that it was working again. Apparently the report lit a fire under someone's butt.
     
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  37. BowWow

    BowWow Happy to be here

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    Paper rock scissors?
     
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  38. Me.

    Me. Active Member

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    New York State has this covered in a way that makes sense for everyone. (I added the color).



    S 1117. Traffic-control signals; malfunction.
    Except when directed to proceed by a police officer, every operator of a motor vehicle
    approaching an intersection governed by a traffic-control signal which
    is out of service or otherwise malfunctioning shall stop in the manner
    required for stop signs set forth in section eleven hundred seventy-two
    of this title, and proceed according to the rules of right of way for
    vehicles set forth in article twenty-six of this title.


    With this, any malfunction lets you treat it like a 4-way stop, without having the 3 minute wait period.

    I used to keep a copy of this in my motorcycle, as I leveraged the law for all those times the signal wouldn't trigger.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
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  39. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Get over it, snowflake. Charter Life Member

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    Thanks!