Has this ever happened to you? You’re in the middle of a multi-lane intersection regulated by traffic lights, looking for a gap in oncoming traffic to make a left turn. You entered the intersection on a green, but now the light has turned yellow. The opposing traffic must also have a yellow, so you figure they’re going to let you make your turn, you hit the gas pedal and – whack! You’ve just had a auto body collision.
If you’ve found yourself in this unhappy circumstance, surprise! You may have been the victim of the Yellow Light Trap, also known as the “Yellow Trap,” the “Lag Trap” and the “Left-Turn Trap”. The reason? The opposing traffic still had a green light.
The Yellow Light Trap is a danger that has only come to the attention of traffic engineers within the last few years. According to observers, the problem is the unintended effect at some intersections of the use of new, electronic traffic light equipment. If you believe some traffic websites, neither driver is at fault. But better than determining fault would be to avoid the peril in the first place. Here’s how:
• When waiting to make a left turn in an intersection with oncoming traffic, always assume that all the traffic that can & will block your turn, regardless of the color of the light they’re looking at. That includes yellow- and red-light runners.
• Only turn when you actually have a gap in oncoming traffic. If you entered the intersection before it turned red, in most states you have the right to complete your turn, which means crossing traffic must yield the right of way to you.
• Avoid entering an intersection where you plan to make a left turn on a yellow light. This avoids the potential problem altogether, at least on that light sequence
• Avoid entering an intersection where you plan to make a left turn on a yellow light. This avoids the potential problem altogether, at least on that light sequence.