The yellow light is there for a reason!

Yup. I’ve been in a hurry down to work from just outside the city and coming off the motorway sliproad past some lights that were amber (or orange/yellow, just to make this post internationally acceptable :wink: ) and then a second or so later another car tore on through.

Another classic line about Yellow Lights is from Starman:


I remember so well turning left in California, where apparently they don’t believe in left turn signals. So the first car waiting to turn left would crawl out as far as possible into the intersection, and when the light turned red (and oncoming traffic finally stopped running the red, often 3-5 cars) would turn left on the red, with up to 5 cars on its tail. Fastest way to create gridlock and accidents I’ve ever seen.

My favorite red-light-running accident story, though, belongs to my hubby. Imagine, if you will, a four-lane road (Georgia Avenue in Montgomery County, MD, for those familiar with it)with typical heavy of traffic. He’s northbound on Georgia, stopped in the left lane at a red light with cars lined up in both lanes. There are two cars ahead of him – and two cars ahead of his neighbor to the right – at the light.

The light turns green. The first cars proceed into the intersection. At that point, asshole comes barreling out of the cross street and T-bones the first car in the left lane, spinning it around. (The car in the right lane escapes safely.)

The second cars both run into the poor guy who just got T-boned.

Hubby and his neighbor to the right are both able to stop with molecules to spare, but avoid adding to the pileup.

The cars behind hubby and his neighbor also manage to stop without rear-ending hubby and his neighbor.

The cars behind THEM crash into them.

So there hubby and his neighbor sit, four cars (counting the fucknugget who ran the light and caused the whole thing) in a pile ahead of them and four cars in a pile behind them. Neither of them with so much as a scratch on their fender.

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. Except the agonies the woman directly behind hubby went through because she was driving a 3-day-old Jaguar. :smack:

I used that line at traffic school once. It was supposed to be Improv Comedy traffic school. I didn’t get a laugh. Just blank stares.

Maybe it was my delivery?

Up until a year or so ago I drove mostly in NH where it’s a very bad idea to not go like hell on a yellow light. You will be rear ended if you do. In fact, if you find yourself miscalculating and going through the red, you’ll notice at least one and most likely two or three cars behind you doing the same. It is also a very bad idea to simply go on green, thinking that green means “go”. Green in NH means “look both ways and then look again just to be sure”.

The land that I now live in has a rather more interesting arrangement. Here the lights go from green to yellow to red just like the US. But they also go from red to yellow to green. It was a bit disconcerting at first, especially when as soon as that light turns green you GO. You don’t look first and then go, you just GO. The yellow after the red apparently means “get in gear and get ready”. If you don’t go when it turns green you are likely to be rear ended. On the other hand, going through the yellow that comes after the green and before the red is also perfectly acceptable. I think the lights are sequenced so that when one side turns red the other side turns yellow first and then green. At any rate, it seems to work. There don’t seem to be a lot of broadside accidents here at lights.

mostly they avoid the whole light thing and use roundabouts and that’s just a whole 'nother story

Something that pisses me off even more is when, in serious traffic on those suburban-sprawl crisscrossing highways NJ has so many of, people go forward on a green or yellow knowing that the line from the next light is so long that they’re going to get stuck in the intersection. Then, the light changes, the cross-street is blocked, and everyone wants to kill Senor Fuckity-Important in their Big Shiny Lincoln SUV.

I’m going to make myself sound like a jerk, however, a yellow light doesn’t mean stop unless doing so is going to cause you to crash. Yellow means ‘use your judgement and if you can safely proceed through the intersection, go ahead.’ When you get a green, that means, “Go ahead but don’t be a self-absorbed fucker - if there’s a car that doesn’t look like they’re going to stop, wait so you don’t kill them.”

If I am understanding the situation correctly, I can also note that you must have ever had the pleasure of visiting Los Angeles (Hollywood, specifically). There are NO protected turns in the entire friggin’ area and traffic is BAD, so the only way to make a left turn is to run the red after waiting in the damn intersection.

I have no idea why there are no protected turns. Seems to me that protected turns would save a lot of accidents and help gridlock. Aye.

I would post to this thread, but I think it would be wiser for me to plead the fifth amendment.

Sorry. I had a Big Mac craving and wanted to get to McD’s before the Beanie Baby crown got there.

Even worse, try the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica Blvds. Three traffic lanes in each direction on each street, plus I remember at least two left turn lanes off Santa Monica onto Wilshire – can’t remember if there was one or two from Wilshire onto Santa Monica. Anyway, it’s one of the busiest intersections in the country, and yet NO protected left turns. Insane.

I enjoy a good traffic rant as much as anybody, but my understanding has always been, in every state I’ve lived in and driven in, that if the light is yellow when you enter the intersection, you are perfectly within your rights to do so. Certainly no police officer has ever taken issue with it. The chances that the opposing light will turn green and the cross-traffic will speed up from zero in time to hit you before you clear the intersection are pretty much nonexistent.


I’m not sure that anyone has suggested otherwise.

The OP was about someone who entered the intersection AFTER the light had turned red, and that is also what the rest of us have been talking about.

Nevertheless, the road rules do emphasise stopping on yellow, not going.

I just learned something new about running a red light here in Baltimore.

First, the city’s website tells us that:

Then, we learn:


The city concedes that running red lights is an extremely dangerous activity, and anyone who drives in Baltimore knows that red light runners are a huge problem here. In the five years that i’ve lived here, i personally witnessed at least six accidents directly resulting from someone running a red light.

And then, after all this, we are told that running a red light accrues no points on your license, and has no effect on your insurance rates.

I think my head is about to asplode.

mhendo- Here in my lil’ hick town, the city decided to put in a redlight runner camera. People protested because the thing cost close to $5000. It was installed in an intersection that isn’t that busy. Apparently it paid for itself in half a day (yes, less than 6 hours). Eachticket is $400. The city has since installed well over 15 other cameras.

Plus, I’ve been to traffic court while the red light runners are trying to protest the ticket:

Person: Well the kid was screaming in the back and there was swamp gas and and and
Judge: Is that your car in the picture?
Person: Yeah but SWAMP GAS!!
Judge: And that is you in the picture, right?
Person: Yeah…
Judge: GUILTY!

It’s pretty funny to hear some of the excuses. It’s even funnier to stop and a yellow on one of the camera lights, watch people run the light, and watch the camera goes off.

The cameras are all over the place in the DC area, and we love stopping at the light and watching the camera flash, too. It’s such a powerful feeling of self-righteousness. Which probably isn’t a good thing, but hey, enjoying others’ misery is half the fun, right?

That’s only if you’re caught by the red light cameras – there are a few constitutional and due process issues with issuing a moving violation and points when you can’t identify the driver. So, a non-moving violation is issued to the vehicle owner.

Get pulled over by a flesh-and-blood cop for doing the same thing, and it’s 2 points and $125, along with a ding on your driving record.

I’m sure you’re correct.

But i was under the impression that if the owner was not driving in situations like this, then a declaration by the person who was driving is enough to have the violation transferred to that person.

At least, this is how it works in Australia, where i’m originally from. I once got caught by a speed camera while in my girlfriend’s car. She got the ticket in the mail, so i signed a statutory declaration saying i was driving and sent it in. That way the ticket was re-issued to me instead of to her. And then it was dropped, for no apparent reason. I can only assume that the vehicle license plate could not be positively identified or something.

Personally, i think that unless the car has actually been stolen, the owner should either take responsibilty for what is done with it, or at the very least make sure that the car is only lent to people who are willing to stand up and take the blame if caught running a red light. And that should include points on the person’s license.

Wow. 400 bucks is a pretty steep fine.

Not that i’m complaining. Red light runners are fucking dangerous, and need to be stopped, and if that sort of fine is what it takes to stop them, then i’m all for it.

Of course, if red light cameras are used, they need to be set up to work correctly. There was recently something of a scandal in Baltimore when it was discovered that some of the city’s traffic lights did not allow enough time when switching from yellow to red, making it difficult or even impossible for people to stop in time. Apparently, there is a federal minimum time of three seconds for a yellow light, and some Baltimore traffic lights did not reach this minimum amount of time. Some local citizens filed a class action lawsuit against the city over the issue last year, but i’m not sure what became of the court case.