General Question

dustinhuling's avatar

I was turning left at a controlled intersection, after waiting through the light i attempted to make the turn just as the light turned red. In doing so i was struck by a car head on who ran the light. who has the right of way in this situation? i was charged with failure to yield?

Asked by dustinhuling (7points) May 22nd, 2009
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

26 Answers

cwilbur's avatar

This probably depends on the law in your state, and how persuasively your lawyer can argue the case.

Your options right now are to pay the ticket or to contest it in court. Consult with a lawyer before you contest it; you’ll get more immediately useful advice there than here.

westy81585's avatar

It may vary by state, but if you were already in the intersection, YOU had the right of way (and in fact were obligated to go so that you could get out of the intersection before other traffic started going).

Contest that shit, you’re getting screwed.

ru2bz46's avatar

In California, the first car in the intersection has the “right of through travel”, even if it should not be there in the first place (like when running a red light). If the other guy was running the light and got into the intersection before you, then you were not supposed to go, or you were supposed to stop and let him go if you had already started moving.

westy81585's avatar

What I think he’s implying is that he was in the intersection, waiting to turn due to oncoming traffic…. Then, the light turned red, and he went because he needed to get out of the intersection, only to be broadsided by someone who ran the recently turned red light.

dustinhuling's avatar

you are correct as to what i was implying. i have been driving for some time now and have always assumed that in this situation i have the responsibilty of clearing the intersection if the light turns red. Of course the person who hit me is saying the light was yellow. So as of right now its my word against his. I have one witness who told the police that the light was red when i was hit but later changed her story to “she did not know for sure”. thanks for the answers though.

miasmom's avatar

I did this in CA and luckily did not get hit, however the police man told me that some people speed up to hit you and collect on insurance because you are at fault for failing to yield the right of way. I don’t know if the fact that the light was turning red has any positive bearing to your case because when I turned the light was still green. Bummer!

tinyfaery's avatar

A left turn NEVER has the right of way unless the turn has a protected lane with an arrow, and then only when the arrow is green.

ru2bz46's avatar

Oh, now I understand the scene! Sorry, buddy, you’re toast.

dynamicduo's avatar

Left turning cars rarely if ever have the right of way, even in situations like this. Your situation sure is tough, hence I don’t even care to speculate and would advise you to to a traffic lawyer.

PupnTaco's avatar

You only have the right to enter the intersection if it is safe to do so. Sounds like you turned into oncoming traffic before determining if it was clear. If you were already in the intersection, you should’ve stopped to make sure no one tried to beat the red. If you were behind the limit line, you should’ve waited there for the next green.

westy81585's avatar

No no, what you guys aren’t getting, is that he was already safely in the intersection, waiting for oncoming traffic to stop so he could turn. The light turned red, which made oncoming traffic have to stop, and him have to turn. BUT, someone didn’t stop, and broadsided him. HENCE, he legally is not at fault…. BUT without witnesses to confirm his story that the light was red, they will side with the other driver.

dynamicduo's avatar

That’s the thing, he should not have been in the intersection prior to making his turn. Most people turning left will go past the stop line and turn as soon as they can, provided they have a green turn signal (not advanced). According to the driving laws in my country (Canada), this is incorrect. Technically you have to remain behind the stop line until it is safe to make your turn, at which point you enter, turn, and exit the intersection in one clean motion.

Edit: Do you know why this is? It’s to prevent against accidents just like this one, in which two people try to rush through lights.

BCarlyle's avatar

@dynamicduo Some states allow you to enter into the intersection as you are waiting to make a left turn, some states require you to wait behind the line.
As to the original question, I think dustinhuling is screwed. On a left turn she has to verify that the intesection is clear of oncoming traffic. I think we have all been in this situation before when the light turns red and you are waiting to make your left hand turn still in the intersection. You cannot commit to the turn until the oncoming traffic has stopped regardless of if the light has already changed.

westy81585's avatar

@dynamicduo umm, i dunno what the law is where you live, but here in Ohio you are allowed to go into the intersection prior to turning. In fact, in my experience police/driving instructors/general populace, tend to get upset when you do not.

BCarlyle's avatar

@dustinhuling what state did the accident occur in?

westy81585's avatar

@BCarlyle That’s why it sucks so much, cuz she’s clearly not at fault in my book… some j-ass ran a red light and obviously shouldn’t have…. But without witnesses backing her up, she’s going to take the fall.

tinyfaery's avatar

Well, in So. Cal we have the unwritten 3 cars per red rule. Three cars can go through a red when turning left, otherwise it would take everyone even longer to get anywhere. Even the cops won’t pull you over for turning left on a red, as long as you were already in the intersection.

westy81585's avatar

@tinyfaery hahaha, yah my dad tells me that’s the “rule” in Florida too…. It would never fly in ohio…. if anyone past the car already in the intersection went and it was even yellow, you’d be pulled over in a heartbeat.

ru2bz46's avatar

@westy81585 Are there more than three cars in Ohio? ;-)

westy81585's avatar

@ru2bz46 haha, very funny…. lol….. In columbus there are…. in cleveland and toledo there are too, but in fairness they’re all on trains being shipped out of town with the jobs…. and in cincinnati…. well i just don’t like cinci that much

BCarlyle's avatar

Here is a legal opinion from Washington State. Look at the the second paragraph.

[A] driver intending to turn to the left within an intersection shall yield the right of way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction that is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard. This right of way, however, is not absolute but relative, and the duty to exercise ordinary care to avoid collisions at intersections rests upon both drivers. The primary duty, however, rests upon the driver turning to the left, which duty must be performed with reasonable regard to the maintenance of a fair margin of safety at all times.

See also RCW 46.61.185.

It is interesting to note that courts interpreting the jury instruction and the statute on which it is based have held that the duty to yield the right-of-way to the non‑turning vehicle (including motorcycles and bicycles) is so strong that it even applies where the oncoming vehicle is proceeding illegally.

Doherty v. Metro. Seattle, 83 Wn.App. 464, 921 P.2d 1098 (1996); Ellwein v. Hartford Accident & Indemn. Co., 95 Wn.App. 419 976 P.2d 138 (1999).

Lupin's avatar

You could have been charged with Unsafe start. Paraphrasing here: Unsafe start is putting a standing vehicle in motion when conditions are not safe regardless of who has the right of way. You were stopped, waiting at the light. You moved and went in front of the other car. The other person can be charged with failure to obey a traffic control device. But you moved your standing vehicle into danger. Oh well….
These are New York State rules. You should check your own state..

rottenit's avatar

I had this happen to me in MN, I was turning left, I was in the intersection and the light turned red, I looked but didnt see the car that was speeding and running the red light. I got the ticket and was responsible for 2 cars being totaled and 3 others damaged.

I was told by the PD that I had a greater responsibility to ensure that the intersection was clear before I proceeded because I was at a stop.

dustinhuling's avatar

Wow! Lots of input.. Thanks, much of it seems valid and fact driven with quite a few opinions in the mix. In any case thanks for your help. I am in Ohio by the way. I still feel as though i had the responsibility of clearing the intersection to make room for oncoming traffic but will take it a little better now if i am found guilty. Thanks again for your replies. And by the way the names Dustin and i’m a guy.

beticmom's avatar

The same exact thing happened to me a couple of months ago. I got the ticket for failing to yield right of way, but in fact, the other driver did NOT have the right of way because she broke the law and ran a red light! I was, at that point, in the right of way. I am off to court in two days and my witness has disappeared…damn. I’m in Arizona and the cop said that it didn’t matter what color the light was, that I had to wait…BS! He makes it sound like it’s not illegal to run red lights.

highwood101's avatar

We are in Montana and our situation was that we were turning left on a green light (with a string of cars behind us) and waiting for the guy going the other direction to turn a right hand turn – so we got out in the intersection and the guys slowed down and then the light turned red and so we were in the middle of the intersection and a car from the right of us came thru her green light and smashed into us. We got the ticket but what was we suppose to do as we could not back up or evidentlly go forward. I thought there was a right of way law that the intersection needs to be clear before entering. Any help would be appreciated on how to fight this.

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