AVON PARK — At 7:01 a.m. Tuesday, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office got word of a rear-end wreck on U.S. 27 at Hal McRae Boulevard. One motorist stopped and another didn’t.
With traffic lights out at several locations, law enforcement personnel want drivers to remember that, under Florida law, motorists have to stop for inactive traffic lights, especially in the aftermath of a disaster.
“Just because you think it’s a stupid rule, it’s the rule,” said Scott Dressel, public information officer for the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office.
He also recommended that motorists attempting to turn left across six lanes without a traffic light might do better to turn right, merge over to the next median crossover and make a U-turn to head the direction they want.
“That’s better than forcing all the traffic to stop,” Dressel said.
Technically, non-working lights will indicate whether or not drivers need to stop. A flashing yellow light means “caution,” but gives a driver the right-of-way, said Gloria Rybinski, public information officer for the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners. A flashing red light means stop.
No lights working at all means all traffic needs to stop and treat the intersection like an “all-stop,” Rybinski said, with drivers taking turns.
Dressel said motorists need to pay attention in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. If they see no lights on the traffic signals ahead of them, they should be prepared to stop, whether or not the car ahead also plans to stop.
That’s apparently what happened Tuesday, Dressel said, although reports on the accident were not finished as of press time: One driver stopped and the one behind them didn’t.
He cautions drivers in their hurry to find supplies — gasoline, water, ice and snacks — to slow down and watch out for each other.