Tag Archives: case law

What exactly is an Inoperative Traffic Signal?

So this revolves around the law dealing with traffic signals that are “inoperative” 28-645C

C. The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection that has an official traffic control signal that is inoperative shall bring the vehicle to a complete stop before entering the intersection and may proceed with caution only when it is safe to do so. If two or more vehicles…

So: 1) make a complete stop, and 2) proceed only when safe. Simple enough. But what does ‘inoperative’ actually mean?

 Arizona Bicycling Street Smarts

Adot’s AzBSS Puts it this way:

WHEN TRAFFIC LIGHTS DON’T TURN

Always stop and wait for red lights. You not only ensure your safety, but you also increase respect for cyclists as law-abiding road users.

But some traffic lights don’t turn green until they receive a signal …

If your bicycle doesn’t trip the detector, you have to wait for a car to do it, or stop and wait until it is safe to go through the red light. Going through the red isn’t against the law, because the light is inoperative (Arizona Revised Statutes 28-645).

 

 

Below the line is a bunch of semi-unorganized research that may or may not shed light on the subject!


 

PennDOT was, I believe, the first State DOT to adapt Street Smarts, from Chapter 9:

If your bike does not trip the detector, you have to wait for a car to do it, or else you have to go through the red light. Going through the red is not against the law, because the light is defective. Refer to Sections of Title 75 (Vehicle Code in this pamphlet) pertaining to pedalcycles Section 3112”

Detectors are made that work for bicycles, at little or no additional cost. Federal design guidelines exist for these detectors. If you put enough pressure on your local and state government, bicyclists can avoid the crashes and the city can avoid the lawsuits which may follow.

Here is Section 3112. Traffic-control signals:

(c) Inoperable or malfunctioning signal.—If a traffic-control signal is out of operation or is not functioning properly, vehicular traffic facing a:
(1) Green or yellow signal may proceed with caution as indicated in subsection (a)(1) and (2).
(2) Red or completely unlighted signal shall stop in the same manner as at a stop sign, and the right to proceed shall be subject to the rules applicable after making a stop at a stop sign as provided in section 3323 (relating to stop signs and yield signs).

Comment: Standard traffic signals sometimes do not detect bicycles. You may be unable to pass through a signalized intersection because the green signal is never received. When faced with this problem, you may treat the signal as malfunctioning and take the following steps to safely proceed through the intersection. First, determine that the signal will not detect you. Try to position the bicycle directly over the saw cuts in the pavement behind the white painted “stop bar” at the head of the lane. These cuts, which often take the shape of an elongated hexagon, contain the loop wires that detect vehicles. If no cuts are evident, you may have to guess their location. Wait for a complete cycle of the signal through all legs of the intersection.
If you still believe that the signal will not detect you, treat the red signal as a stop sign and proceed through the intersection only after yielding the right-of-way to all intersecting traffic (including pedestrians) that may be close enough to constitute a hazard during the time when you are moving across or within the intersection or junction of roadways.

Pennsylvania Bicycle Driver’s Manual (Street Smarts adaptation)

in answer to your question: Nope.

For what it’s worth: i believe AZBSS is exactly correct.

the question for your traffic engineer is: what does he think a automobile or motorcycle driver at a demand light that won’t change should do?
put it in park (or put down the kickstand) and go push the ped button? wait indefinitely?

Ha! I didn’t think so.

p.s. i think mionsky’s “3 minutes” is comically long. I was thinking about this the other day as one car after another –easily a dozen; not one of them stopped — was streaming through a right-on-red at 10 – 25mph at a freeway ramp… they weren’t even pretending to stop.

I will try to check the annotated statutes for that, could be something interesting.

I checked “traffic laws annotated, 1979” and the PedBikeLaws “Resource
Guide”, but couldn’t find that section is in UVC at all! I remember
that Mionske wrote that it was illegal in every state.

I checked ADOT crash data [0]. (Since that seems more promising than
anything else I have access to, and also the police have a reputation
for not enforcing rules against cyclists, except in the event of a
crash).

SOME, but not all, ACR have a field with
TCD_INOPERATIVE_MISSING_OR_OBSCURED, but it seems that’s an
intermediate thing that may have existed in 2010 but not in 2009 or
2011? For example, that is in field#18 “contributing circumstances”,
checkbox#10 (subfield “road”) in phoenix#2010-00400550.

There are several intriguing crash reports, but none are accessible on
the phoenix TAR site.

mysql> SELECT eViolation1, eViolation2, u.UnitNumber, FileNumber, IncidentDate, OfficerNcic, OnRoad, CrossingFeature FROM 2009_person p, 2009_unit u, 2009_incident i WHERE p.UnitID=u.UnitID AND i.IncidentID=u.IncidentID AND eRoadCondition1='TCD_INOPERATIVE_MISSING_OR_OBSCURED' AND eUnitType='PEDALCYCLIST' AND u.UnitNumber=1;
 +-------------------------------------+-------------------------------------+------------+------------+--------------+-------------+----------------------------------+----------------------------------+
 | eViolation1 | eViolation2 | UnitNumber | FileNumber | IncidentDate | OfficerNcic | OnRoad | CrossingFeature |
 +-------------------------------------+-------------------------------------+------------+------------+--------------+-------------+----------------------------------+----------------------------------+
 | FAILED_TO_YIELD_RIGHT_OF_WAY_103 | NOT_APPLICABLE_0 | 1 | 4074 | 2009-03-05 | 723 | 32nd St Front | Medlock Dr |
 | FAILED_TO_YIELD_RIGHT_OF_WAY_103 | NOT_APPLICABLE_0 | 1 | 8044 | 2009-05-06 | 723 | 16th St | Meadowbrook Ave |
 | OTHER_97 | NOT_APPLICABLE_0 | 1 | 8742 | 2009-05-14 | 723 | Bell Rd | 20th St |
 | SPEED_TOO_FAST_FOR_CONDITIONS | NOT_APPLICABLE_0 | 1 | 11052 | 2009-06-22 | 723 | Coral Gables Dr | Central Ave |
 | OTHER_97 | NOT_APPLICABLE_0 | 1 | 13789 | 2009-08-04 | 723 | Thomas Rd | 57th Ave |
 | FAILED_TO_YIELD_RIGHT_OF_WAY_103 | NOT_APPLICABLE_0 | 1 | 18918 | 2009-11-02 | 723 | 12th St | Bethany Home Rd |
 | INATTENTION_DISTRACTION | NOT_APPLICABLE_0 | 1 | 22705 | 2009-12-29 | 723 | 32nd St | Willetta St |
 | OTHER_97 | NOT_APPLICABLE_0 | 1 | 22727 | 2009-12-31 | 723 | 16th St | Glendale Ave |
 | OTHER_97 | NOT_APPLICABLE_0 | 1 | 1425 | 2009-01-23 | 723 | Roeser Rd | 16th St |
 | OTHER_97 | NOT_APPLICABLE_0 | 1 | 8747 | 2009-05-14 | 723 | Cactus Rd | 40th St |
 | DISREGARDED_TRAFFIC_SIGNAL | DROVE_RODE_IN_OPPOSING_TRAFFIC_LANE | 1 | 11105 | 2009-06-19 | 723 | Palm Ln | 75th Ave |
 | DROVE_RODE_IN_OPPOSING_TRAFFIC_LANE | NOT_APPLICABLE_0 | 1 | 14100 | 2009-08-14 | 723 | No Data | Windrose Dr |
 +-------------------------------------+-------------------------------------+------------+------------+--------------+-------------+----------------------------------+----------------------------------+
 12 rows in set (2.76 sec)

I also tried these:

eControlType=’FLASHING_TRAFFIC_CONTROL_SIGNAL’
u.eRoadCondition1 IN (‘TCD_INOPERATIVE_MISSING_OR_OBSCURED’,
‘NON_HIGHWAY_WORK’, ‘OTHER_97′)

In the process I came up with a bicyclist charged with a ped statute
(28-646A2): phx#10001611367, adot#2553949. Ed: that may partially
explain the Phoenix PD claim/interpretation that “bicyclist shall not
ride in crosswalk”.

“If you ever have a crash or get a traffic ticket because a traffic
light won’t turn green, it’s the fault of whoever installed the
detector”

I think that’s an unfortunately optimistic misrepresentation of
reality: the statute says “may proceed with caution only when it is
safe to do so”. Any PD and most judges will agree that a crash is
compelling evidence that it was not safe. So I think it’s almost for
sure that a bicyclist will lose in a traffic court trial (and that
assumes they’re not so seriously injured that they can’t challenge
it). Being found responsible for the traffic ticket may influence a
later lawsuit (but see ARS 28-1599). *If* the cyclist challenges the
PD report, hires a lawyer, sues the jurisdiction, and then appeals a
couple times, then there’s reasonable chance they can win..

If you’re unable to justify the current language, and feel compelled
to change it, you could consider recommending to make a right turn, a
U turn, and a 2nd right turn… (But I acknowledge that level of
disservice is only a small step from the marginalizing advice to
“dismount and cross as a pedestrian”).

Justin

[0]
mysql> SELECT FileNumber, IncidentDate, i.IncidentID, OfficerNcic,
OnRoad, CrossingFeature FROM 2011_incident i, 2011_unit u, 2011_person
p WHERE i.IncidentID=u.IncidentID AND p.UnitID=u.UnitID AND
p.ePersonType=’PEDALCYCLIST’ AND u.UnitNumber=1 AND
(p.eViolation1=’DISREGARDED_TRAFFIC_SIGNAL’ OR
p.eViolation2=’DISREGARDED_TRAFFIC_SIGNAL’) AND
u.eControlType=’FLASHING_TRAFFIC_CONTROL_SIGNAL’;

mysql> SELECT u.eRoadCondition1, FileNumber, IncidentDate,
i.IncidentID, OfficerNcic, OnRoad, CrossingFeature FROM 2009_incident
i, 2009_unit u, 2009_person p WHERE i.IncidentID=u.IncidentID AND
p.UnitID=u.UnitID AND p.ePersonType=’PEDALCYCLIST’ AND u.UnitNumber=1
AND (p.eViolation1=’DISREGARDED_TRAFFIC_SIGNAL’ OR
p.eViolation2=’DISREGARDED_TRAFFIC_SIGNAL’) AND u.eRoadCondition1 IN
(‘TCD_INOPERATIVE_MISSING_OR_OBSCURED’, ‘NON_HIGHWAY_WORK’,
‘OTHER_97′); — u.eControlType=’FLASHING_TRAFFIC_CONTROL_SIGNAL’; —
UnitAction ControlType EnvCondition Defect OfficerNcic xsection/junk
Lane nonMotorLoc

mysql> SELECT eViolation1, eViolation2, u.UnitNumber, FileNumber,
IncidentDate, OfficerNcic, OnRoad, CrossingFeature FROM 2011_person p,
2011_unit u, 2011_incident i WHERE p.UnitID=u.UnitID AND
i.IncidentID=u.IncidentID AND
eRoadCondition1=’TCD_INOPERATIVE_MISSING_OR_OBSCURED’ AND
eUnitType=’PEDALCYCLIST’;

On Fri, May 17, 2013 at 10:50:24PM +0000, Michael Sanders wrote:

> Are you aware of a cyclist being ticketed for running a red light because they couldn’t trip the detector? If so, was it challenged and what was the outcome?
>
> I’m having a conversation with a traffic engineer who believes we are providing bad advice when we state in ABSS that: “If your bicycle doesn’t trip the detector, you have to wait for a car to do it, or stop and wait until it is safe to go through the red light. Going through the red isn’t against the law, because the light is inoperative (Arizona Revised Statutes 28-645.C.< http://www.azleg.gov/ars/28/00645.htm > – “C. The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection that has an official traffic control signal that is inoperative shall bring the vehicle to a complete stop before entering the intersection and may proceed with caution only when it is safe to do so. If two or more vehicles approach an intersection from different streets or highways at approximately the same time and the official traffic control signal for the intersection is inoperative, the driver of each vehicle shall bring the vehicle to a complete stop before entering the intersection and the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the driver of the vehicle on the right”).
> No definition of what is “inoperative” but this traffic engineer believes it means “dark” . . .
>
> Other documents / sources:
>
> Arizona Driver License Manual and Customer Service Guide . . .
> Inoperative Signal Lights: When approaching an intersection with an inoperative traffic control signal, treat it as you would a 4-way stop. Come to a complete stop before entering the intersection and then proceed when the roadway is clear. If two vehicles arrive at the intersection at about the same time, both must stop and the driver of the vehicle on the left must yield the right-of-way to the driver on the right (

http://mvd.azdot.gov/mvd/formsandpub/viewPDF.asp?lngProductKey=1420&lngFormInfoKey=1420 , p. 34).
> John Allen’s version of SS uses the word “defective” – “If your bicycle doesn’t trip the detector, you have to wait for a car to do it, or else you have to go through the red light. Going through the red isn’t against the law, because the light is defective. If you ever have a crash or get a traffic ticket because a traffic light won’t turn green, it’s the fault of whoever installed the detector” http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/chapter9a.htm
>
> Also from John Allen web page: “. . . understand that the actuator problem, because it involves outright, inexcusable illegality, is a legal crowbar which can work to bring the traffic engineers to respect bicyclists . . .” Traffic Signal Actuators: Am I Paranoid? http://www.bikexprt.com/bicycle/actuator.htm
>
> And Bob Mionske says on the topic: “Once you have located the cut lines in the road and positioned your bicycle above the cut lines, what if the light has still not triggered? . . . It turns out that in every state, this is one instance where you can legally run a red light. . . . to be sure that the signal is defective (and to be able to demonstrate in court that you had sufficient reason to be sure), you should sit through the equivalent of one complete light-cycle — about three minutes — without the light being triggered. If you still don’t get the green light, the light is defective, and you can then proceed through the intersection, yielding the right-of-way to any approaching vehicles” (Bicycling & the Law: Your Rights as a Cyclist, p. 42).
>
> League of American Bicyclists: http://www.bikeleague.org/resources/better/ride_better_tips.php
> 3. Unresponsive signals
> * In most states, after three minutes, you can treat a red light as a stop sign
> * Pass through a red light only as a last resort
> * Yield to other vehicles while crossing the roadway

The “Words and Phrases” book has this case:

Fla. App. 3 Dist. 1992.  Traffic light at intersection that showed
steady green and yellow light was “malfunctioing,” not “inoperative,”
and, therefor, it was not contributory negligence for motorist to enter
intersection without stopping.  West’s F.S.A. 316.123(2), 316.1235,
316,1235(1).  City of Miami v. Burley, 596 So. 2d 1133.

That was, I believe, a case appealed from superior court to the state’s
appeals court, involving the city’s attempt to recover damages when a
citizen’s vehicle facing conflicting signal indicators crashed into a
city vehicle, decided against the city.

I will photocopy the case at a later date, but it specifically
distinguishes between “inoperative” meaning “not functioning at all” and
“malfunctioning”, meaning working imperfectly or only partially.

It seems that failure to detect a bicyclist/motorcyclist is an
“imperfection” and not an “inoperability”, as contemplated by that
statute, as interpreted by the FL court.

Violation of a statute enacted for the public safety is negligence per se

Sisk v. Ball, 91 Ariz. 239, 371 P.2d 594 (1962):

“Violation of a statute enacted for the public safety is negligence per se,Anderson v. Morgan, 73 Ariz. 344, 241 P.2d 786 (1952), and when this theory is supported by the evidence, [a party] is entitled to have a properly worded instruction on this issue read to the jury. Of course, a violation of the statutory duty must be also a proximate cause of the injury to constitute actionable negligence. Caldwell v. Tremper, 90 Ariz. 241, 367 P.2d 266 (1961).” 91 Ariz. at 242, 371 P.2d at 595-96.

 Here are a couple of definitions of negligence per se: nolo.comlexisnexis.com

DUI Brake Light Conviction tossed

“When it comes to brake lights, one is enough, at least according to the state Court of Appeals. In a unanimous decision Friday, the judges threw out the drunk driving conviction of Aaron Fikes.” — verdenews.com Weird, i’m not seeing anyone like Arizona Republic covering it; at least according to a search… I heard a short mention of it on KJZZ news.

Since the case was out of Tucson, it would have been heard in the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division Two. And sure enough, it popped right up under recent casesSTATE OF ARIZONA v. AARON RAYMOND FIKES CR20110124. Note that the driver was up on serious charges, aggravated (indicating other/previous problems; such as previous simple dui convictions, or suspension, or driving dui with a minor in the vehicle) DUI, and driving on a suspended license, for which he was sentenced to 4 months in jail and 3 years of probation.

In short, the conviction was tossed because the traffic stop was found to be without just cause, and therefore the evidence that the driver was DUI should have been supressed. The State Attorney General’s office vows appeal to Arizona Supreme Court. Continue reading DUI Brake Light Conviction tossed

Sidewalk Cycling in Arizona

Cycling on the sidewalk is generally far more dangerous than doing so properly in the roadway. All stats and studies that I am aware of reinforce this fact. For example, in the city of Phoenix’s 2007 Bicycle Collision Summary in the majority of the bike-motor vehicle collisions the cyclist was riding on the sidewalk just before the collision. (308 of 440 total collisions = 70%); and these numbers are pretty consistent, in the previous 2005 summary, it was 72%.

What about legality, though? (roundup of laws across 50 states here) Continue reading Sidewalk Cycling in Arizona

Take the lane

*** a third win, see Another Appellate win for bicyclists in Pima County. Here is the order. ***

Educated cyclists know that they not only can (legally), but should (for safety) occupy an entire lane when conditions dictate. One of these conditions is when the lane is too narrow to safely share side-by-side. See more on the safety discussion at Where to ride on the road.

Arizona law is quite strong and plain in this regard. Continue reading Take the lane