In our city of Brisbane (Australia) we have just experienced the worst floods in 36 years. One outcome has been power outages which has meant that traffic lights at many of our street intersections have not been working.
This has not resulted in any noticeable chaos !
In fact some observers have commented that traffic flows have been better – drivers are far more alert & considerate and they are driving more cautiously.
Could it be that the standard traffic engineering model of ruling by PRIORITIZATION needs to be questioned, and an alternative strategy of FILTERING IN TURN be investigated ?
As always others elsewhere have done a lot of work on this and we merely need to observe their outcomes : check out this video of a town in England that turned off its traffic lights http://www.wimp.com/trafficlights/
Another resource worth investigating is http://www.fitroads.com/