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Driving You Crazy?: What should drivers do at traffic lights flashing yellow and red?

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Posted at 5:17 AM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 13:02:41-04

Bob from Aurora writes, “What’s driving you crazy? Jayson, please settle a bet...Let's say that a traffic light is malfunctioning and giving blinking yellow for the north/south traffic and blinking red for the east/west traffic. In this case, what is the traffic in each direction supposed to do?”

In a situation where the lights are flashing that way, the drivers with the yellow flashing light should slow down and proceed with caution. They have the right of way. The drivers facing the red flashing lights need to treat it like a stop sign and come to a complete stop and then proceed through the intersection when able with caution since cross traffic does not have to stop. While it might seem courteous to stop and let cross traffic out if you see the flashing yellow lights, it creates a nuisance and safety hazard for those behind you.

So, in your scenario, the north/south traffic has the right of way and does not need to stop. Those drivers should slow down and continue through the intersection, but they should be especially aware of drivers going east or west who aren’t familiar with what to do or who have pulled out thinking it’s their turn. Those drivers going east or west seeing the red flashing lights need to stop and yield to the north and south traffic until there is a break when they can cross or turn.

MORE: Read more traffic issues driving people crazy

I would hope that whenever this happens law enforcement in the area would be notified to help with traffic control and so they can notify the proper agency to fix the traffic lights. Your scenario can be especially dangerous on roads with two or three lanes across.

I hope this settles the bet. If you win all I ask for is 15%.

Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 20 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes , Stitcher , Google Play or Podbean.