Yellow Traffic Light Means Don’t Enter

Posted on behalf of Rizk Law on Feb 22, 2014 in Auto Accident

Approaching an intersection, as the light changes to yellow, do you stop or proceed through the intersection, hoping that cross traffic will wait for you to cross before proceeding?

The Oregon Drivers Manual says, when approaching an intersection:

A steady yellow signal warns you that the signal is about to turn red. Stop before entering the intersection. If you cannot stop safely, you may then drive cautiously through the intersection. Cautiously means slowly and carefully. Pedestrians facing a yellow light must not start across the street unless a pedestrian signal directs otherwise.

Cars Vulnerable to Side Impact Crashes

Side impact collisions, when one vehicle crashes into the side of another, are particularly dangerous and kill between 8,500 and 10,000 Americans a year. When a vehicle hits the front or back of your car, there are several feet of steel, bumper, engine, trunk, and seats protecting you. However, when your car is t-boned (broadsided), there is only a door and a window between you and the other vehicle.

Enter at Your Own Risk

States vary in the amount of time between yellow light and cross traffic green light. In Oregon, if you are already in an intersection when the light turns yellow, you will have only 1 to 3 seconds to safely clear the intersection before the cross traffic light turns green. For that reason, you should not begin to enter an intersection after the light turns yellow unless you cannot stop safely before the intersection.