One of the most common causes of traffic accidents, by far, is the failure to yield at a traffic light. While the concept is pretty simple – green light means go, red light means stop – the problem is not that drivers don’t understand what they’re supposed to do. It’s that, as individual situations unfold, they either make a poor judgment or they don’t think about what they’re doing at all. The result is that traffic lights are often the scene of accidents ranging from mild to serious.
Failure to Yield and Car Accidents
A driver cited with failure to yield at a traffic light likely committed one of a handful of errors.
- He may have accelerated through a yellow light in order to “beat” the red, rather than slowing down as the law requires. This often causes drivers to be in the middle of the intersection under a red light, and the presence of oncoming traffic (which then has the right of way) can quickly lead to a collision. In this case, of course, it’s the fault of the first driver, who should have yielded at the light.
- Another common scenario occurs when drivers don’t yield properly at a traffic light in the case of a turn. Turning on red lights where prohibited, ignoring green or red turn arrows, or attempting to make a turn against oncoming traffic are all common problems that lead to collisions at traffic lights. In any of these situations, the driver who didn’t have the green light on his side will be considered at fault.
- It happens rarely, but sometimes, that the traffic light itself may be to blame. There are, in fact, cases on file of malfunctioning traffic lights that give two opposing drivers both a green light at the same time. Obviously this has great potential to lead to a collision, and in such a situation it’s difficult to say for sure who might be at fault; often neither driver is held responsible, because they were both doing what the traffic signal told them to do. Of course, both could also be cited for inattentive driving, because ideally they will be paying attention to their surroundings and see the problem before the collision occurs. All of the driver’s energy should not be focused solely on the traffic light – he must be aware of the rest of the conditions, too.
Failure to yield at a traffic light is a common moving violation that can take many forms, and may lead to accidents of varying degrees of severity. Take care to pay attention to what the light is telling you, as well as what surrounding traffic is doing, and try your best to remain attentive and safe on the road – both for your own sake and for that of the other drivers. If, however, you have been involved in a failure to yield accident, you should consult with an experienced car accident attorney who can help you to better understand your rights and responsibilities.