Because of possible power outages in the next few days due to fire danger, Southern California motorists may find themselves driving through areas with non-functioning traffic signals. The Automobile Club of Southern California is reminding drivers that they should treat intersections with disabled traffic signals as four-way stops, and exercise caution, patience and courtesy.

Tens of thousands of Bay Area homes and businesses were without power Thursday morning as Pacific Gas and Electric co. shut off electricity to parts of Contra Costa, Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

In all, 600,000 customer accounts across PG&E’s territory — potentially totaling 2 million people in Northern and Central California — were blacked out as of 7 a.m., according to the Chronicle.

“The general rules for safely driving through an intersection with a blacked-out signal are the same as those for a four-way stop,” according to Anita Lorz Villagrana, the Auto Club’s community programs and traffic safety manager. “Although we hope that power outages won’t disable signals on major arterial streets, there is a possibility we could experience some traffic congestion from disabled signals. It’s important to be patient in these situations, as frustrating as they can be.”

At an intersection with a disabled signal during power outages, drivers should:

  • Come to a complete stop.
  • Cross the intersection when it’s “their turn.” If two vehicles traveling in different directions arrive at the intersection at the same time, the driver on the right has the right-of-way.
  • If it is a multi-lane major intersection, cross the intersection in an alternating pattern with the flow of traffic, allowing for left turns.
  • Be courteous to drivers making left turns, and exercise caution if turning left.
  • Watch out for drivers who aren’t following the four-way stop rules.

Image Sources

  • Power Outage: Shutterstock