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When you see a yellow signal and decide to speed through the intersection, you are doing it wrong. Unfortunately, many motorists in Seattle and all across Washington state do not realize the real purpose of yellow lights. When a traffic light turns from green to yellow at an intersection, you are supposed to slow down and stop.

Our Seattle red and yellow light accident attorney at Russell & Hill, PLLC, explains that about 40 percent of all car accidents in the United States involve an intersection, and the vast majority of these accidents occur at yellow and red lights.

Driver responsibilities when faced with a red or yellow light

Unfortunately, many motorists in our state have no idea what their driver’s responsibilities are at an intersection. Luckily, Washington state law guides your obligations when faced with a yellow or red light.

  • Yellow light. If you are at an intersection and are facing a steady circular yellow or yellow arrow signal, you are being warned that you should not enter the intersection. In this scenario, you need to slow down and stop your vehicle to allow pedestrians, who are lawfully within the crosswalk or intersection control area, to cross the intersection.
  • Red light. When facing a steady circular red signal, you should stop at a clearly marked stop line or before entering the crosswalk or intersection control area. Vehicles facing a steady circular red signal may proceed to make a right or left turn from a one-way or two-way street into a street with the flow of the traffic in the direction of the right or left turn respectively, unless there is a traffic sign prohibiting such movement. However, motorists planning to make such movement should remain stopped to allow other motorists to approach or within the intersection control area to complete their movements. If you are planning to make a right or left turn at an intersection against a red light, you should allow pedestrians, who are lawfully within the crosswalk or intersection control area, to cross the intersection.

Who has the right of way at an intersection in Washington state?

Our experienced red and yellow light accident attorney in Seattle says that motorists in the state of Washington are usually not aware of their responsibilities and obligations in the following scenarios:

  • You must yield the right of way to oncoming traffic and pedestrians if you are turning left at an intersection;
  • You must yield the right of way to traffic on the left when entering a roundabout;
  • You must yield the right of way to vehicles approaching or within the intersection if there is no stop sign; and
  • When an intersection is equipped with multiple stop signs (four-way stops), the first vehicle to arrive has the right of way. However, when vehicles arrive simultaneously, the vehicle on the right always has the right of way.

Causes of red and yellow light accidents

Some of the most common causes of red and yellow light accidents include but are not limited to:

  • Failure to stop at a red light. Some motorists decide to speed and run a red light, while other motorists who are planning to make a right-hand turn at an intersection may choose to roll through a red light without stopping. Both movements are illegal in Washington state and cause a large percentage of intersection accidents.
  • Speeding to beat a yellow light. Many motorists do not know or simply do not care that yellow lights are a warning for vehicles to slow down and stop.
  • Left-hand turns. Performing a left-hand turn at an intersection is a difficult maneuver. That’s why motorists often fail to check for oncoming traffic or pedestrians before making the left-hand turn.
  • Rear-end collision. This is a common type of car accident at an intersection, which can be caused when motorists are distracted, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, fail to maintain a safe distance, fail to apply the brakes properly, and other reasons.

Regardless of what caused your car accident at an intersection when either of the motorists was facing a red or yellow light, it is important to speak to a Seattle intersection accident lawyer. Here at Russell & Hill, PLLC, our attorneys offer a free consultation to help you seek compensation for your damages and losses. Call our offices at 206-880-7703.

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