Left Turn: Do you really know what to do at a stoplight?

by | Jun 15, 2016

Many drivers do not understand what their duty is when making a left turn at a stop light when the light turns yellow and then goes to red. First, the driver has a duty to keep a “lookout,” which means to drive defensively. Second, the driver has the duty to yield to oncoming traffic, which includes traffic coming through the intersection on a yellow light and even a red light if the driver coming through on the red light should have been noticed by the driver turning left. It’s this last issue that creates confusion. Many drivers believe that an accident involving someone going through a red light puts all fault on the driver going through the red light. However, that assumption is false. Instead, the fault for these accidents turns to “comparative fault.” The person running the red light indeed bears fault for the accident, but the amount of fault he/she bears is totally dependent on the circumstances of the accident. After the light turns red, the left turner still has the duty to yield to oncoming traffic and to drive defensively. A left-turning driver has the right to turn left on the red even after waiting for all vehicles proceeding through the intersection. Be aware of this duty to avoid getting injured in such an intersection accident and avoid having part of the fault for the accident allocated to you!