The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Opinion

November 13, 2012

Basically legal to move through intersection on yellow light

Ask An Attorney

My husband and I have a fight almost every time we get in the car about the red light law. When you are turning left at a light and waiting for the oncoming traffic to pass, is it legal to pull out into the intersection while waiting? And also, if you are in the intersection when the light turns yellow or red, but then turn after the last car passes, is that a legal violation? — J.F., Greenville

The answer to your first question is “yes,” it is legal to pull out into the intersection while waiting for oncoming traffic to pass if you have a green light. It is also legal to complete a turn you started during a green light if the light subsequently changes to yellow or red after you have entered the intersection.

Under Texas law, a steady yellow light means: “(1) movement authorized by a green signal is being terminated; or (2) a red signal is to be given.” Basically this means that a yellow light is legally treated as a “go” signal with an added warning element.  If the signal turns red before you enter the intersection, you have committed an offense.

The underlying reasoning for the answers above relates to the issue of which plane must be broken for an offense to occur. The Texas Transportation code states that a driver “facing only a steady red signal shall stop at a clearly marked stop line...[or] before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection.” As long as you have entered an intersection before the light turns red, you have not committed any offense.

The more important question is whether it is safer to stop or to enter the intersection with a yellow signal. This must be determined on a case-by-case basis.  For instance, if you stop suddenly at a yellow signal on a rainy day, you could cause the person behind you to slide into your vehicle. Your duty to avoid an accident is far more important than meeting the technical requirements of the law. You may also receive a valid ticket for causing a wreck if you make reckless decisions that might otherwise comply with the law.

Text Only
Opinion
Featured Ads
Promotions
Poll

What's your favorite spring high school sport?

Swimming and diving
Wrestling
Basketball
Soccer
Tennis
Golf
Track and Field
Softball
Baseball
     View Results
Facebook
Must Read
Photos


See more photos and purchase prints here.

AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide