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Traffic Light Out? Full Stop!

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Traffic Light Out? Full Stop!

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
May 31, 2008


One reader tipped me yesterday to the number of cars running through the signalized intersection by Wal-Mart yesterday, when the traffic lights at Lake Avenue and Kilkenny Court were out. While he was stopping, one car ran through the "dark" intersection at 30-35MPH.

When traffic lights are out, the intersection is to be treated as a four-way stop. If you look ahead and see that the traffic lights are out, you might try slowing down well in advance, because the driver behind you may not be paying attention. You will not want the back bumper of your car re-styled by a driver who is on his cell phone, text-messaging, eating, drinking, etc.

And, of course, after you make your full stop and are ready to proceed, watch for those other drivers who are not stopping before entering the intersection.

The same tipster suggested that this corner needs those popular fold-down Stop signs that can be opened when the lights are out. Great idea! Of course, they should have been installed when the lights were installed. A message has been sent to the Woodstock Streets Department to urge its installation of these fold-down signs.

Is it "too expensive" for Woodstock to install these Stop signs that get only infrequent use? Then portable stop signs on saw horses, stored in the Community Service Officer's vehicle or at the Streets Department, might be a solution. Yes, there's a cost to every solution. The choice is how to minimize it.

It will be quite expensive for the City to defend itself, if a driver stops as legally required and then is hit by another driver who claims there was no stop sign. It's easy (and cheaper) just to install the stop signs.

Officers or other City employees will need to close the temporary Stop signs as soon as the lights are back in service. If you see a folding stop sign open while a light is in operation, be sure to call the local P.D. to request that the sign(s) be closed, so that there is no contradiction in signals to drivers approaching the intersection.

2008 GUS PHILPOTT

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