Drivers in New York City are always encountering various problems on the roads. There is the obvious high volume of traffic. This can cause massive delays at the bridges and tunnels that people use to get in and out of the city. There is also the issue of trucks double parking in the middle of busy streets so they will be able to make deliveries. This can block traffic and create chaos in the area. Construction is yet another regular headache for drivers in the city.
There is no question that driving in Manhattan on a regular basis can be very stressful. However, the stress level of drivers in the city went up a lot last Saturday morning at 5am. This is when the traffic lights at roughly 600 intersections stopped working as they should. Some of them turned off completely. Other lights began flashing. The problem was the result of a software upgrade that usually takes place on weekends when traffic in New York City is at its lightest. Drivers were warned on local radio stations to stay off the roads until the traffic lights were fixed. There were no accidents reported as a direct result of the traffic lights not working properly.
Police officers were dispatched to the busiest intersections to direct traffic until the software problem could be repaired. The city was very lucky. Local politicians said there could have been dozens of accidents and even fatalities if the traffic lights stopped working during a regular work day. There will be a full review of the software in order to determine exactly what went wrong and prevent it from happening in the future. People who live in some of the areas that had traffic lights malfunctioning said they were very concerned for the safety of motorists.
The problem with the traffic lights was eventually corrected at around 9pm on Saturday. Some of the police officers who were directing traffic said it was a minor miracle that there were no accidents during this crisis. Police will monitor the traffic lights at busy intersections in future weeks while the software upgrade is taking place. This will allow them to immediately start directing traffic if the traffic lights should have more problems. There will be also additional precautions taken by local authorities so that the city can be better prepared for a problem like this if it should happen again.