Was this traffic maneuver illegal?

I left my house about an hour ago this morning heading to work, and at the four-way intersection by my house, I encountered something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before in my life.

For traffic traveling north- or south-bound on the major street, the light was red…and green. At the same time. The yellow was not lit, but both red and green lights were lit as brightly as normal (as well as both the walk and don’t walk signals, for those pedestrians who had hoped to avoid this mess altogether). The traffic signal for the street going east and west showed solid red, only. I was traveling east, looking to turn north onto the major street.

I was able to see the issue as I approached the light, and I assumed that people would be treating the light like a four-way stop sign. But in Los Angeles, apparently, we take the attitude that if the light shows green, that means go, no matter what else the light may be doing. In the brief period of time I sat at the light, at least six or seven cars went through the signal heading north or south, and most didn’t even so much as slow down.

Anyway, when the northbound and southbound traffic had a break, I just went ahead and made my left turn. But now I’m wondering whether what I did was technically legal. I was treating the intersection as a four-way stop, so it made sense to me to turn when it was safe to do so. But I went through a solid red to do so. I was only at the light for maybe ten to fifteen seconds, so I didn’t wait long enough to see if the signal was going to change in any way. Would a police officer have had a valid reason to stop me? What should I have done differently, if anything?

I think in most states if a light is malfunctioning you can treat it as a stop sign and proceed through the intersection when safe. Example would be if the vehicle sensor isn’t working, and you find yourself sitting in the left turn lane while the cycle skips over you a couple of times.

If you’re not sure of the rule in your state, and you definitely want to be legal, I’d suggest a right-turn-on-red and then a U-turn.

Also, if the light is malfunctioning in an ambiguous or dangers way (case in point, simultaneous green and red for the same direction), I think I would also call 911 and report a serious traffic light malfunction.

I thought when a light was malfunctioning you are supposed to treat it as a four-way stop - I think if you made your stop and proceeded when it was safe to do so, you were doing better than the people who weren’t even slowing down. Calling 911 sounds like a good idea, too - your description sounds very dangerous!

I got pulled over here in Southern California for doing exactly that. It was about 1 in the morning and no traffic so the main street I wanted to turn left onto had a long green light before it would change to the side street I was sitting on.

The light skipped me three times. Basically the main street light was green and then went red and the straight through light on the side street I was on turned green but the left turn arrow stayed red. So the fourth time my street turned green but the left arrow did not I just went ahead and turned left as there was no traffic.

Well a cop was somewhere, I didn’t see where he came from, and came up behind me and pulled me over. I did all the initial cop interaction stuff and then he asked me why I ran the red light. I told him what happend but he either didn’t believe me or didn’t care.

He said if that was the case I should have backed up and gotten into the go-straight-through-the-intersection-lane and then the next time the light turned green gone straight through the intersection and a little ways down the road made a u-turn and then come back and then make a right turn onto the main street.

He was being pretty cool through out the interaction and let me go with just a warning.

I’ve always thought from where he had been before he pulled me over he could actually see I was getting skipped but when I went through the red he saw it as a good way to pull me over and see if I was drunk. I hadn’t been drinking so he was out of luck there and was probably why he let me go instead of giving me a ticket for running a red light.

I think this is fairly common late at night, at least in small towns. I’ve been pulled over for illegal left turns and gotten off with a warning despite the fact that my girlfriend was driving my car without carrying her license because I was drunk and she was not.

Kinda funny timing on this thread, this morning a major intersection on my way to work was flashing reds both ways. But everyone was pretty considerate and treated it like a 4 way stop, even though it’s a major light with 2 left lanes, 2 straight lanes, and 1 right turn lane for all 4 directions. Took a while to get through it though >:[

I’ve never seen a red+green light combo together. 911 was the right thing to do. I’d hate to be the people at the cross street who never get a chance to go!

I suspect that cops would tend to declare it illegal, prosecutors would rather not bother with it, and judges would would dismiss any charge from it almost instantly.

And I’ll bet that backing up on the street like that is absolutely illegal, and there’s a fair chance that the U-turn could be as well. I think he knew damn well that what you did was reasonable, but he wouldn’t dare admit to anything that would call his actions into question.