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Written by: Steven R. Clawson
| Read Time: 2 minutes

California drivers should take careful heed when approaching an intersection controlled by red and yellow traffic lights. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over one-third of all intersection-related fatalities involve traffic lights.   

While dangerous, red and yellow light traffic collisions are also some of the most preventable accidents. Accidents are common when drivers think they can “make” the yellow light before the light turns red. Other times, accidents occur because a driver fails to yield to oncoming traffic or applies the brakes too late after becoming aware of the red light.

California drivers shouldn’t gamble with their lives and the lives of other drivers. To minimize the risk of intersection traffic accidents, California drivers should follow the speed limit, remain vigilant of surrounding cars, and use extra caution when driving in adverse weather conditions.

Is It Illegal to Run a Yellow Light in California?

California Vehicle Code 21452 provides that a “driver facing a steady circular yellow or yellow arrow signal is, by that signal, warned that the related green movement is ending or that a red indication will be shown immediately thereafter.”

California’s yellow light law permits drivers to enter an intersection during a yellow light. No violation exists unless any part of the car is over the stopping line when the light turns red. However, the law encourages drivers to slow down before reaching the intersection.

In California, the yellow light law provides that drivers are automatically “warned” by the light turning yellow that the traffic light is about to change to red. This means that a faulty driver cannot avoid responsibility for an accident simply by claiming that they didn’t see the yellow light.

It doesn’t matter if they saw it or not. Drivers speeding through a yellow light may be found negligent for not slowing down if their driving caused an accident or injured others.

Is It Illegal to Run a Yellow Arrow in California?

Like yellow circular traffic lights, yellow arrows are not illegal to drive through. But they automatically put drivers on notice that the light will soon be changing to red. In addition, California drivers turning on a left yellow have a legal duty to yield to oncoming traffic. Failure to yield before turning left will likely result in liability regardless of whether the driver saw the yellow arrow light.

What About Red Lights?

Like everywhere else in the world, red lights in California mean stop. Common causes of accidents involving red lights include:

  • Failing to make it through a yellow light before the light turns red;
  • Failing to stop completely before taking a right on red; and
  • Following too closely behind another driver through an intersection.

Note that red light accidents do not involve only drivers. Pedestrians are common victims when drivers decide to roll through a crosswalk on a red light.

Injured at a Red or Yellow Light? Trust an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney to Fight for You

Since 1984, our firm has represented numerous Californians in a wide array of personal injury lawsuits arising from intersection traffic accidents. To date, we have recovered over $500 million for our clients.

If you or a loved one are injured as the result of another’s careless driving, contact the seasoned attorneys at Wells Call Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. We can help determine your best options going forward.

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