P-4 Traffic Light Hoax

This article was originally published in June 2009 and is visible now so that readers can look at what was happening on the Costa Tropical back then.

There was an email in Spanish circulating, one of which I received, about the traffic lights on the P-4. The author claimed that it was a sort of dishonest police trap.

We’re talking about the junction that takes you into the P-4 area of Almuñécar on a road that leads past the municipal sports stadium. More specifically, we are talking about the bleed-off light that let’s you onto the main road, if you are going towards Salobreña.

The email reads as follows:

The Traffic Department always tries to sell us the idea that they fine us for our own good; that fining people is not merely a way of making money, but a way to make us obey the Highway Law and reduce the number of accidents. What nice people!

I’m sending you a photo of this ‘trick traffic light’ that can be found at the exit from Almuñécar, next to the sports stadium, in the Motril direction. It is curious that whenever the main light goes into red, the amber-arrow one starts flashing, which let’s you believe that you can move off with caution… Well that’s not the case! If you do, you will find yourself stopped by a pair of Guardia Civil policemen standing out of sight behind the parked lorries, and they will tell you three things to you:

A) You should have stopped and waited for the red light to change, paying no attention to the amber one.
B) You have just been fined and have lost the corresponding points of your licence for jumping a red light.
C) The amber light is ‘a mistake’ but it is not their job to sort it out.”

The author of the above email asks some rhetorical questions and urges the recipient to pass the email on. So, instead of hitting the suggested button, I decided to go up to the Guardia Civil post and speak to the post commandant, armed with the email, suitably shorn of its to and from addressees.

“Rubbish,” said the man. The flashing amber light is a luminous give-way signal, reinforced by a standard vertical ‘give-way’ signposts and the corresponding ‘give-way’ instruction written on the surface of the road. As long as you do give way and do not pull out in front of oncoming traffic, you have broken no highway laws.

In the post commandants’ opinion the author of the email is somebody who has done something stupid on that junction and been fined for it and now seeks to ‘get even.’

I thank the person that passed this email onto me and hope we have cleared up what could possibly be an Internet hoax.

As for the Spanish Highway Law concerning Stop and Give-Way signs at junctions, it states that there are five types of signals that indicate priority and they are, in descending order of importance: A traffic policeman giving hand signals, roadwork signs, luminous signals (traffic lights), vertical signals (standard road signs) and horizontal signals (those painted on the surface of the road). Should any of these signs present, on the same junction, a conflict then the one of greater importance in the scale of five categories should be obeyed, providing always, it does not endanger your or somebody else’s life.

Everybody knows that even if your traffic light is in green, you must remain stopped if a policeman is indicating otherwise – obviously – because a policeman takes priority over a traffic light. In the same way if you have contradicting instructions because a vertical sign says ‘Stop’ but the horizontal one indicates ‘Give Way,’ then you stop, because the vertical one takes priority over a horizontal one.

(News: Almunecar, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)

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