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Regular Guys Direct Traffic In Newark

Newark, NJ
Flickr User mtellin
A power outage in a Newark neighborhood led to an interesting situation. About 43 customers lost power which also killed the traffic lights at the intersection of University Avenue and Court Street. Once power comes back on, it’s up to the city to re-set any affected traffic signals. Multiple calls were made to city agencies and nothing was being done. At one point a cop came by, set out a flare, then said a unit would be dispatched shortly with a cop to direct traffic. Shortly never happened and late morning traffic began getting bad.

According to, that’s where Ernest Manning, wearing a Raiders cap, blue jeans and black long-sleeved t-shirt came in. He along with a friend took it upon themselves to just start directing traffic. He says he didn’t want to see anyone get hurt. Without any authority, but with an air of authority, he did what any cop would do. He successfully held traffic with hand signals to let cross traffic safely by, switching it up at the proper intervals, scolding the occasional driver who didn’t obey him, even helped pedestrians cross the street by walking right with them while still holding traffic stopped with hand signals. This went on for hours until police finally got their act together and sent somebody.

It amazes me how people have no idea what to do at an intersection when the lights go out. Of course, you are supposed to treat it as a 4-way stop, and yield to the person on your right. My guess from anecdotal evidence is perhaps 3% of drivers know this.

So is what Ernest did heroic and civic minded? Or was he overstepping bounds? Take our poll and share your thoughts below.

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