It is important to use your best judgment, do not hesitate, and remain cautious when approaching a yellow light.
As a child, it was likely ingrained in your mind that “green means go” and “red means stop;” but what about yellow? Approaching a yellow light at an intersection can be confusing. Should you speed up? Should you slow down? The answer is somewhat convoluted and on a case-by-case basis. However, let’s dive into what exactly a yellow light means.
What Does a Solid Yellow Light Mean?
A solid yellow light at a traffic signal, whether circular or arrow, denotes a change in color (from green to red) is approaching in the next three to six seconds. However, every state has different laws when it comes to what a yellow light means and what actions you should take. California Vehicle Code Section 21452 states that a yellow light is a warning sign that a red light is coming. However, the law does not explicitly state what you should do when the light turns yellow. This is where things get confusing.
Generally speaking, it is a good rule of thumb to slow down and come to a stop when you see a yellow light, so long as it is safe to do. However, if you are driving at a high speed and are unable to come to a safe stop, you should continue driving but proceed with caution. Whatever decision you make, you must make it quickly so as to not get caught in the middle of an intersection.
What Does a Flashing Yellow Light Mean?
A flashing yellow light is different from a solid yellow light. A flashing yellow light does not mean that a red light is coming, rather, it means that you must yield to other vehicles who have the right-of-way and proceed once it’s safe to do so.
Is Driving Through a Yellow Light Illegal?
Driving through a yellow light is not considered to be illegal. However, if you drive through a red light, it is illegal and punishable by law. Besides being illegal, driving through a red light poses a severe threat to others on the road.
The Dangers of Yellow Lights
Determining what to do when you see a yellow light is undoubtedly a slippery slope, and depending on what actions you decide to take, it could end up being very dangerous. According to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 36% of vehicle crashes are related to intersections. While this does not exclusively encompass yellow light accidents, it still goes to show how dangerous intersections can be. If you wind up in a car accident, it is important to contact a Van Nuys car accident lawyer to learn about the legalities of the situation and help fight for the compensation you may be entitled to.
On the one hand, if you slam on the brakes and come to a screeching stop on the road when approaching a yellow light, this can create potential for a rear-end collision. On the other hand, if you decide to accelerate through the yellow light, you run the risk of speeding and potentially running a red light, which can have legal implications. Therefore, it is important to use your best judgment, do not hesitate, and remain cautious when approaching a yellow light.