How Does A New Driver Navigate A Broken Traffic Light In Washington State?

My niece just got her learner's permit and she's ecstatic! I'm pretty proud of her but I also know that being a new Washington State driver can be a little confusing.

27th Avenue and 395
credit: google street view

What Do I Do When I Come To A Broken Traffic Light? What's The Law Say In WA

I still can't stand a 4-way stop and try to avoid them when possible. The one traffic situation that can throw many drivers off is a broken traffic light, especially at a busy intersection like 20th Avenue in Pasco.

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So how do you navigate a broken traffic light?

Credit: Richland Police Department
Credit: Richland Police Department

According to the Richland Police Department, you treat it as a four-way stop.

When a traffic light is malfunctioning or completely out, all drivers must treat the intersection as a four-way stop.

This means that you should come to a complete stop and yield the right-of-way to other vehicles based on the order they arrived at the intersection.

Closeup of a traffic light by night in Israel. Red light.
N Rotteveel

Many drivers might assume that since the traffic light is not working, they can accelerate through the intersection.

This is a dangerous assumption.

Be extra cautious and look both ways, even if the other drivers have come to a complete stop. It would help if you watched out for pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users.

As you can see, new drivers in Washington State like my niece will encounter a bevy of traffic situations that could intimidate a newbie but with some helpful information

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