I am just learning to drive and I am having problem and is confused what to do with yellow lights... I this confusion costed me a ticket for running through a red light.
I know I am supposed to prepare to slow down on the yellow light, but then problem comes when I am traveling at around 40+ MPH (following speed limit) and the light changes to yellow when I am about 10-15 feet away from the intersection.
If I try to stop, then I end up stopping crossing the intersection line quite a bit...
and since the light turned yellow when I am quite a bit away from the intersection, I feel that it is very likely that it would turn red before I make it to the otherside...
What do I do? Is it okay to stop a quite a bit into the intersection even if my car would pass the intersection line?
Do I slow down before each intersection?
know when to slow down
Also, I am wondering if it is okay to slow down when I see red light far ahead of me so that when I reach the light it turns green
Last edited by qkrtjdwls91 on Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
First of all, the basic rule is if you are on the intersection (or very close to it) already and the light changes from yellow to red, it is safer to proceed than to suddenly break and stop. Sudden stopping and breaking is more dangerous for you and the cars behind you than carrying on moving through the intersection. A lot depends on your speed actually, which should be slow at this point already.
The things to keep in mind:
- As a rule, we should stop at an amber or yellow light.
- As you are approaching traffic lights, keep an eye on them from afar. Best to anticipate in advance and act accordingly. With time and practice, you will learn to anticipate better if the lights are going to change, judging from a distance and the other cars ahead of you.
- Also, it is safest to slow down as you approach traffic lights/intersections in any case so you are better prepared to stop in case of any changes in the lights.
- And yes, if you see a red light ahead, you should slow down - enough for you to be able to stop if you have to - and yet keep the car rolling in case it changes to green and you need to keep moving on. Even if the lights have just turned green, it is never a good idea to cross intersections at high speed... as it is possible that cars are still coming and turning from other directions.
- the whole point is to do the safest thing possible in a situation.
Oh sorry, I misconverted the distance into feet ...
I meant 10-15 feet away from the intersection line...
Hmm... I guess I need to be more aware of the state of traffic lights at far to check how fresh/stale the green light is... It kind of makes sense.
However, what do I do when I go around a curve that and see a green traffic light where I can't tell if it is fresh or stale and am close enough for the light to be relevant?
cause if it just do as you say and slow down,
Also, it is safest to slow down as you approach traffic lights/intersections in any case so you are better prepared to stop in case of any changes in the lights.
there still exists fear in me that thinks the light may turn yellow at 3-6 feet away in my slower but still relatively fast speed, and this will be a similar situation as before only I am going slower then normal so I wouldn't be able to even try to race across the yellow light. (maybe?)
Also, when you say slow down... do you mean about 10 mph below the speed limit? Cause, if it is slow down so it is safe to stop if the light would turn yellow then the speed I will need to go would be reduced the closer I get to the intersection and will be (something like 1/x as lim x->infinity)
Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Location: McLean, VA, USA
Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:05 pm
Well, here is a couple of numbers for you to think about:
- Normal duration of a yellow light is 4 seconds, at least in the USA.
- Car traveling at 40 mph covers about 60 feet per one second.
Would you do the rest of the math?
Overall, there is nothing to worry about here. If you see a yellow light and have enough room to stop - you stop; if you don't have enough room to stop - you have enough time to clear the intersection.
I can add and clearify things here. First, understand that intersections are dangerous. When green, flashing, yellow or red -- they are always VERY dangerous. Probably the most dangerous driving enviornment you encounter in your normal driving. The faster you approach it, the greater the hazard. Likewise, it increases during the first few seconds of the green light (especially if you are in movement) and during the yellow and red light.
There are two basic methods to deal with the general hazard:
1. Well before any intersection, slow down by letting go of the gas and place your foot in front of the brakes. In high-speed intersections (over 30mph), slow down intentionally to a safe speed. Going through an intersection at 50mph, for instance, is too dangerous. Don't enter an intersection at over 40mph.
2. Give any intersection your full attention. It's best to stop any discussion, even with your passengers, by using the phrase "just a sec." as you pay your full attention for scanning the intersection for vehicles that seem to not be about to stop in time and yield for you/for the light.
Two other notes about the yellow light in particular:
1. The law does not prohibit running a red light. It simply allows the driver to run only at a green light. The yellow and red are the same, but the yellow allows you to go through if you are too close.
2. The yellow light is generally on for three seconds. This can help you decide on going through or not, in addition to the strategy I will show below.
Use your mirrors to see the traffic behind you. Figure out if there is a car behind you and how close it is. If a car seems to follow you closely behind, try to move in the lanes or do something to lose it before the intersection. If not possible, reduce speed further. Visualize a possible "escape route" should you need to brake and veer.
One needs to practice sudden braking and learn to asses stopping distances. With this skill, you can define a "point of no return." Your actions of slowing down, scanning the intersection, looking in the mirrors for traffic behind and dealing with cars following you too closely -- all should be done BEFORE the PoNR.
The PoNR allows to avoid the dangerous situation you were in, where you hesitate just before the intersection as to stop or go through. Before or at the PoNr, you can stop before the intersection, even in the price of very strong braking. The car behind, I remind you, should have already been shaken off. If there is a car behind you, you can use your "escape route" while braking. By slowing down further when a car is behind you, like I suggested above, you can stop at the PoNR without braking too hard, and thus be able to avoid a collision with the car behind. If you passed the PoNR, you need to go through the intersection even in a yellow light.
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