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Traffic Accident: Left Turn on a Yellow Light: Who’s at Fault?

If you are making a left turn in an intersection and your light turns yellow, and you make your left turn and get hit by an oncoming car, whose fault is it?

Determining who is at fault at the scene of an accident is a matter of figuring out which person was careless, negligent or disobeyed a common traffic law.

Some situations are obvious making it easy to determine who is at fault while other situations need more information to determine if there was any negligence or thoughtless carelessness.

Each state has a written rule book of traffic laws that each person who passes a driver’s test must learn, understand and know.

Common scenarios

There are three typical accident scenarios that occur in an intersection when a car is making a left turn.  In most cases, the car turning left is at fault due to the fact that they must “yield the right of way” to oncoming traffic.  However, there are scenarios where it is not your fault.

Scenario one:  You are sitting in the middle of an intersection waiting to make a left turn.  Your traffic light turns yellow so you proceed to make your left turn and get hit by an oncoming car going through the intersection.  Who’s at fault?

Answer:  It is your fault for not “Yielding the right away” to oncoming traffic.

The car turning left must make sure it is clear of any oncoming traffic before turning.

Scenario two:  You are sitting in the middle of an intersection waiting to make a left turn and your light turns red, so you make your left turn and a car going straight collides into you.  Who’s at fault?

Answer:  The car going straight is at fault for “failing to stop at a red light”

This is difficult to prove unless there is a witness or an intersection camera.  

Scenario three: You are sitting in the middle of an intersection waiting to make a left turn and your light turns red, so you make your left turn.  A car that now has a green light proceeds straight through the intersection and collides into you.  Who’s at fault?

Answer: The car with the green light is at fault for, “entering an intersection that is not clear”.  The car has to make sure the intersection is clear before entering.

Conclusion

Intersections are the number one place where most accidents occur and turning left is one of the main contributors. 

If you are making a left turn and your light turns yellow, the most important thing to remember is stay in the intersection until you are sure it is clear and all oncoming traffic is coming to a stop before you turn left.

Be safe.

This article is also posted on Associated Content by Scott Hallock

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  1. Heather Dawn

    On October 10, 2010 at 7:27 pm


    Great article and good information. Left turns on yellow always make me edgy because you really don’t know whose going to try and run the yellow (or quite often red) light. I especially like your advice at the end. I swear, sometimes oncoming straight through traffic thinks you’re just there to hold the intersection so they can go.

  2. My World

    On October 10, 2010 at 10:53 pm


    Nice Post………

    thanks for share.

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