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Diatribe: Understand Flashing Traffic Signals.

08/07/2012

Flashing traffic signals are no joke.  Most drivers understand that when they see flashing red lights at a four-way stop light instead of normal traffic signals they should approach the intersection as if it was a four-way stop sign, alternating lanes proceeding through the intersection, one car at a time.  Flashing yellow lights indicate that it’s safe to proceed with caution.  Much like when approaching a YIELD sign, coming to a complete stop may or may not be necessary.  But what happens if both red and yellow lights are flashing at the same intersection?

I saw a terrible automobile accident last Saturday.  It occurred right in front of me and I actually think I predicted that it would happen.  As we approached a busy intersection, I noticed that the traffic light wasn’t working correctly.  In the direction that we were traveling there were four lanes … two left-turn lanes and two thru-lanes.  Above each of the left-turn lanes there was a flashing red light.  Above each of the two thru-lanes there was a flashing yellow light.  I remember grumbling something along the order of “I hope these dungrmblphs know what to do here.  This could be dangerous.”

We pulled up to the intersection using the innermost left-turn lane and stopped beneath a flashing red light to wait until it was our turn to safely proceed.  The car waiting to approach from the left then proceeded to enter the intersection as he then believed that he had the right of way.  He passed in front of us and was blindsided by a pickup truck in the lane to our right (under flashing yellow) that didn’t sufficiently yield.  He didn’t even slow down.  Perhaps he simply didn’t know how to interpret the confusing situation.

So who was in the wrong?  The driver who passed in front of us had clearly waited his turn before proceeding and the driver that hit him wasn’t required to stop under a flashing yellow light.  I think the lights should have all been flashing red.  It was quite an unusual and frightening ordeal.

What do you think?

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11 Comments
  1. I think people need to retake their driving tests rather than automatically getting a renewal.

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  2. Of course the driver of the pickup truck was wrong in this situation. A flashing yellow light is NOT a green light. Any idiot should at least be cognizant of the fact that the light isn’t functioning properly, which in and of itself is reason to drive through the intersection carefully – let alone the fact that that’s what a flashing yellow light does indeed indicate. Are you going to end up in court as a witness for this, or did the intersection have cameras? Either way, I’d be curious to find out who’s insurance has to pay up.

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  3. When in doubt, give way and don’t be a jerk. I think that one simple concept would prevent a lot of accidents.

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  4. I would have been terribly confused at this intersection too & I’m a very good driver. I agree with drewpan – when in doubt give way & don’t be a jerk!

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  5. I was in the car with my friend when she didn’t stop at a flashing intersection. We almost got hit and I made her cry after I yelled at her for almost killing us. She then made me get out and walk home. So she’s mad at me for being mad at the fact that she almost killed us. To get back at her, I wrote this.

    http://goodolejaybird.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/staffen-made-it/

    I suggest you spread the word on this one.

    Like

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