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ASK A COP: Addressing malfunctions traffic lights, handling a flat tire

• Matt from Port Arthur Asks: I’m enjoying the Article on Mondays Officer Antoine, if nobody has said it before Antoine I will. I appreciate our Police Dept communicating and reaching out to the community before something BAD happens. Normally the only time we have any contact with the police is when tragedy has occured. Here’s a question I think everyone has encountered… What is the law on approaching a traffic signal at an intersection and none of the lights are working?

• Answer: Thanks, Matt, and you are right, we’re hoping somehow this article could be the start of a bridge connecting PAPD with the community we serve. Now you are addressing a very dangerous situation, Matt. Some may say that’s simple but believe it or not this was not addressed in the Transportation Code in Texsas until 2003. So before 2003 you could have done what you wanted to because there was no law on what you must do at intersections when signals not working. Now when you approach a intersection where all the traffic signals are out, Texas Transportation Code says we are to treat the intersection like it’s a stop sign! Traffic from all directions are to STOP and when it’s clear safely enter the intersection. Thats why it’s always important to pay attention while driving. I can’t begin to tell you how many crashes we’ve responded to because the signals were out and motorists did not notice the signals weren’t working.

• Carol from Bridge City Asks: The other day I was riding with my co-worker for lunch and there was a funeral procession on Gulfway. We were traveling the opposite direction of the procession and she didn’t stop. What’s the law on stopping until the procession passes?

• Answer: Great question, Carol. Well, your co-worker didn’t show very much respect to the family of the deceased, but she didn’t break the law. We’ve all seen one and been in one, Carol, but at this time there is no law in Texas on what to do when a funeral procession passes. Now out of respect to the deceased and family, drivers will pull over and stop until the procession passes. Carol, many moons ago back when I was a kid, believe it or not, people used to stop their cars, get out and stand still with their right hand on their hearts, and men would remove their hats. But those days are long gone. Now keep in mind all funeral processions are escorted by law enforcement in emergency vehicles in Texas. So state law says if you are traveling the same direction and the emergency vehicle approach you with its lights and siren activated you MUST pull over to the right and stop until told otherwise. If you are traveling in the opposite direction and the police signal you to pull over and stop you MUST obey the police order. So with that said, Police will direct who to pull over and stop during a funeral procession.

• M.K from Port Arthur Asks: the other day I observed a vehicle driving down the road with a flat tire. Was this legal?

• Answer: Good question, M.K. Actually it’s NOT legal to operate your motor vehicle on a roadway with a flat tire. I know most will say “I’m trying to get to the tire shop or home,” but if your vehicle is not in safe condition to travel on Texas roadways, you are in violation. They should have pulled their vehicle safely off to the side of the road or onto a private lot until the tire could be changed. Just because you have a flat doesn’t give you a green light to drive slow and tie up traffic on the road. At such times your vehicle is not safe for our roads. Ask yourself this question “could I get my vehicle inspected with a flat tire”? If your answer is No, then your vehicle is not legal for our roads.

• Ken from Port Arthur Asks: There is a vehicle that’s been parked in my neighborhood with two flat tires for a month. It’s an eye sore on my block. What can be done?

• Answer: Thanks Ken, call the City of Port Arthur Code Enforcement Department, and if they observe the vehicle to be in nonoperatable condition, they will tag it and give the owner five days to remove the vehicle or fix it. If that’s not done in the time allowed, they will have the vehicle towed away at the owner’s expense.

Remember to email me your question at rantoine@portarthurpd.com, or call (409)984-8541 leave a voicemail, mail to Officer Rickey Antoine, 645 Fourth St. Port Arthur, Texas 77640. Or if you happen to see me in public you can “Ask A Cop”.