Michigan law: dark lights aren't treated as 4-way stop

- Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses are without power after this weekend's ice storm in the Detroit area and that means stoplights are out, too. But do you know what to do?

Many believe a dark stoplight should be treated as a four-way stop - and that system seems to be working fine - but Michigan State Police say that's not actually the way to do it, according to the Michigan Vehicle Code.

Michigan State Police tweeted out the information last year before a massive windstorm knocked out power to thousands. It's a good reminder of what to do. 

"The intersection reverts back to the basic right-of-way requirements, not a four-way stop. Use caution and courtesy!"

You can read basic right-of-way requirements here from the Michigan Vehicle Code. The gist -- the street with the heavier traffic has the right of way. If two vehicles get there at the same time, the driver on the right has the right of way.

"The rule is if you are approaching an intersection and someone has already entered it, you yield to them and they continue on their way," said Lt. Michael Shaw, Michigan State Police. "If you approach an intersection and you get there at the same time as someone else, the vehicle to the right, has the right of way. They can continue going and you have to stop for them. If you come up on an intersection that has a right access road, and nobody's there you don't have to stop. You use care and caution and go through."

The law is listed in the Michigan Vehicle Code Section 257.649, drivers must use the right of way requirements.

The listed law says:

Sec. 649.

(1) The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection shall yield the right of way to a vehicle which has entered the intersection from a different highway.

(2) When 2 vehicles enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right of way to the vehicle on the right.

(3) The right of way rules declared in subsections (1) and (2) are modified at through highways and otherwise as stated in this chapter.

(4) The driver of a vehicle approaching a yield sign, in obedience to the sign, shall slow down to a speed reasonable for the existing conditions and shall yield the right of way to a vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another highway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the driver would be moving across or within the intersection. However, if required for safety to stop, the driver shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if there is not a crosswalk, at a clearly marked stop line; but if there is not a crosswalk or a clearly marked stop line, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway.

(5) The driver of a vehicle traveling at an unlawful speed shall forfeit a right of way which the driver might otherwise have under this section.

(6) Except when directed to proceed by a police officer, the driver of a vehicle approaching a stop intersection indicated by a stop sign shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is not a crosswalk shall stop at a clearly marked stop line; or if there is not a crosswalk or a clearly marked stop line, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway. After having stopped, the driver shall yield the right of way to a vehicle which has entered the intersection from another highway or which is approaching so closely on the highway as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time when the driver would be moving across or within the intersection.

(7) When a vehicle approaches the intersection of a highway from an intersecting highway or street which is intended to be, and is constructed as, a merging highway or street, and is plainly marked at the intersection with appropriate merge signs, the vehicle shall yield right of way to a vehicle so close as to constitute an immediate hazard on the highway about to be entered and shall adjust its speed so as to enable it to merge safely with the through traffic.

(8) A person who violates this section is responsible for a civil infraction.

The weekend's ice storm knocked out power to 370,000 DTE customers. As of 6 a.m. Monday, 250,000 people were still in the dark. 

Power is expected to be restored by the end of the day on Tuesday. 

Dozens of schools canceled classes Monday due to power issues. 

In Warren, a fallen power line sparked a fire that destroyed 10 vehicles at a used car dealership.

Heavy rains caused scattered flooding and easterly winds were blamed for weekend flooding along Saginaw Bay off Lake Huron and in Monroe County off Lake Erie. A neighborhood in Frenchtown Township was evacuated early Sunday morning due to severe flooding, which was waist deep at one point. Other areas got heavy snow.

Viewers share photo's and videos from today's winter storm

DTE is reminding customers to stay at least 20 feet way from downed power line and to never use a portable generator inside.

If you see a downed power line, contact DTE at 1-800-477-4747, online at dtenergy.com, or on the DTE Energy app.

DTE Storm tips:   

  • Never drive across a downed power line. If a power line falls on your vehicle, remain inside until help arrives. 
  • Always operate generators outdoors to avoid dangerous buildup of toxic fumes.  
  • Don't open refrigerators or freezers more often than absolutely necessary. A closed refrigerator will stay cold for 12 hours. Kept closed, a well-filled freezer will preserve food for two days.   
  • Turn off or unplug all appliances to prevent an electrical overload when power is restored. Leave on one light switch to indicate when power is restored.  
  • If a customer is elderly or has a medical condition that would be adversely impacted by a power outage, they should try to make alternative accommodations with family or friends. 
  • During low-voltage conditions - when lights are dim and television pictures are smaller - shut off motor-driven appliances such as refrigerators to prevent overheating and possible damage. Sensitive electronic devices also should be unplugged.  
  • Stay out of flooded or damp basements or other areas if water is in contact with outlets or any electrically-operated appliance. The water or moisture may serve as a conductor of electricity. This can cause serious or even fatal injury.  
  • Assemble an emergency kit. It should include a battery-powered radio, a flashlight and candles, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a fire extinguisher, bottled water and non-perishable food. 
  • Customers who depend on electrically powered medical equipment should ask their physician about an emergency battery back-up system. If a customer is elderly or has a medical condition that would be adversely impacted by a power outage, they should develop an emergency plan that allows for alternative accommodations with family or friends.  
  • Keep a corded or cell phone on hand because a cordless telephone needs electricity to operate. Also, customers should learn how to manually open automated garage doors.  
  • Customers who depend on a well for drinking water need to plan ahead on how they will obtain water. Store containers of water for cooking and washing.    
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