DETROIT (WWJ) – When a traffic signal loses power, who has the right of way?

Many of us probably have the same thought: The intersection becomes a four-way stop. But that’s WRONG!

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Michigan State Police say an intersection without power is never a four-way stop, unless temporary signage has been posted.

Instead, when a signal loses power, the intersection becomes uncontrolled and reverts back to the basic right of way requirements, as found in Michigan’s vehicle code MCL 257.649(1) and (2). Click here to see the law.

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“Some people also mistakenly assume that the major road takes precedence, but this is not true,” Michigan State Police Attorney Steven Beatty said in an email. “To give you an example, if there are 5 to 10 cars on the side street who are continually going through the dark signal, the traffic on the main road would need to stop/yield the right of way. Likewise, if there is heavier traffic on the main road, the cars on the side street would have to wait until it is clear to proceed.”

To put it simply, the street or road with heavier traffic has the right of way. And remember, when two vehicles enter an intersection from different roadways at approximately the same time, the driver on the right has the right of way.

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Police say drivers should always use caution and courtesy in these situations.