Car Accident at a Red Light

Car Accident at Red Light

Normally, the car that runs a red light is at fault. Generally, when a car enters an intersection on a green light and there involved in an accident with another car that had a red light in the action will be considered to be the fault of the car that had the red light. However, there are many exceptions to this particular rule.

Maryland law requires the driver of the vehicle to obey the traffic control devices including: red, green and yellow lights.

The state of Maryland has three statutes that cover the responsibilities of drivers at intersections controlled by traffic lights. The driver that violates these rules is likely to be found at fault. These laws control rights of way in the following situations:

  1. Green
  2. Yellow light
  3. Red light
  4. Green light with vehicles still in the intersection
  5. Green arrow
  6. Right turn on red
  7. Lights at intersection are malfunctioning
  8. Red flashing light
  9. Yellow flashing light
  10. Lights are totally off

Md. TRANSPORTATION Code Ann. § 21-201 Obedience to and required traffic control devices (a) Obedience required.(1) … the driver of any vehicle, unless otherwise directed by a police officer, shall obey the instructions of any traffic control device applicable to the vehicle and placed in accordance with the Maryland Vehicle Law.

car accident at red light

Md. TRANSPORTATION Code Ann. § 21-202 Traffic lights with steady indication

(b) Green indication. — Vehicular traffic facing a circular green signal may proceed straight through or, unless a sign at the place prohibits the turn, turn right or left.
(c) Yielding right-of-way to vehicles or pedestrians within intersections or crosswalks. — Vehicular traffic described under subsection (b) of this section, including any vehicle turning right or left, shall yield the right-of-way to any other vehicle and any pedestrian lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk when the signal is shown.
(d) Entering intersection on green arrow. — Vehicular traffic facing a green arrow signal, whether shown alone or with another indication, cautiously may enter the intersection, but only to make the movement indicated by the arrow or to make another movement permitted by other indications shown at the same time.
(g) Steady yellow indication. —
(1) Vehicular traffic facing a steady yellow signal is warned that the related green movement is ending or that a red signal, which will prohibit vehicular traffic from entering the intersection, will be shown immediately after the yellow signal.
(h) Steady red indication — In general. —
(1) Vehicular traffic facing a steady circular red signal alone:
(i) Shall stop at the near side of the intersection:
1. At a clearly marked stop line;
2. If there is no clearly marked stop line, before entering any crosswalk; or
3. If there is no crosswalk, before entering the intersection; and
(ii) Except as provided in subsections (i), (j), and (k) of this section, shall remain stopped until a signal to proceed is shown.
(2) Vehicular traffic facing a steady red arrow signal:

(i) May not enter the intersection to make the movement indicated by the arrow;
(ii) Unless entering the intersection to make a movement permitted by another signal, shall stop at the near side of the intersection:
1. At a clearly marked stop line;
2. If there is no clearly marked stop line, before entering any crosswalk; or
3. If there is no crosswalk, before entering the intersection; and
(iii) Except as provided in subsections (i), (j), and (k) of this section, shall remain stopped until a signal permitting the movement is shown.
(i) Steady red indication — Entering intersection for right turn or for left turn from one-way street onto one-way street. — Unless a sign prohibiting a turn is in place, vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal, after stopping as required by subsection (h) of this section, cautiously may enter the intersection and make:
(1) A right turn; or
(2) A left turn from a one-way street onto a one-way street….

Md. TRANSPORTATION Code Ann. § 21-204 Flashing signals
(a) In general. — If a flashing red or yellow light is used in a traffic signal or with a traffic sign, it requires obedience by vehicular traffic as provided in this section.
(b) Flashing red (stop signal) — In general. — If a red lens is lit with rapid intermittent flashes, the driver of a vehicle shall stop at the near side of the intersection at a clearly marked stop line.
(e) Right to proceed after making stop subject to certain rules. — The right to proceed after making the stop is subject to the rules applicable after making a stop at a stop sign.
(f) Flashing yellow (caution signal). — If a yellow lens is lit with rapid intermittent flashes, the driver of a vehicle may proceed through the intersection or past the signal only with caution.

Md. TRANSPORTATION Code Ann. § 21-209 Requirements for vehicular traffic with nonfunctioning traffic control signal at an intersection

Vehicular traffic approaching a nonfunctioning traffic control signal at an intersection shall:
(1) Stop:
(i) At a clearly marked stop line;
(ii) If there is no clearly marked stop line, before entering any crosswalk; or
(iii) If there is no clearly marked stop line or crosswalk, before entering the intersection;
(2) Yield to any vehicle or pedestrian in the intersection; and
(3) Remain stopped until it is safe to enter and continue through the intersection.

First typical situation that arises involving traffic lights is when a driver wants to make a left turn from a left turn Lane. The Driver is typically waiting at the red light behind several other cars in the left turn Lane waiting to make a left turn. The left turn arrow turns green. The cars in front of the driver in the left turn lane proceed to make their left turn.

When drivers turn comes to make a left-hand turn at the left turn arrow the light he enters on a green or yellow arrow and then the turn arrow color changes either shortly before or shortly after the car enters the intersection from green to yellow and eventually to the red. Often the driver is not able to complete his left turn before the light turns to green for oncoming traffic.

Often an accident occurs when the car that is going in the opposite direction wants to proceed straight and fails to notice the vehicle that is completing its left-hand turn. The two vehicles collide. The driver that was proceeding the opposite direction assumes that the accident is the fault of the vehicle making a left-hand turn because the driver preceding in the opposite direction had a green light. However, Maryland law provides that once the vehicle making a left turn entered the intersection either on a green or yellow arrow, then that particular vehicle has a right to complete its turn before any other traffic moves.

car accident at red light

They have a right to clear the intersection. If the driver proceeding on a green light fails to allow that vehicle to clear the intersection before proceeding, he will be at fault. However, if the vehicle that’s making a left-hand turn from the left- hand lane did not have a green or yellow arrow when it entered the intersection, but had a red arrow or no light, then the left turning vehicle with be at fault

Next scenario, client is waiting at red light to proceed north or is slowly approaching a red light in order to proceed north and then his light turns green. The vehicles that were already proceeding East and West may have entered the intersection on a yellow light. Often the vehicle heading northbound immediately without looking at other traffic starts to proceed as soon as a light turns green failing to allow the intersection to clear and strikes the vehicle that was heading either East or West and had not cleared the intersection. The vehicle that had a green light would be at fault because they failed to allow the vehicles heading east and west to clear the intersection. Before entering an intersection on a green light, a driver should look to the right and left and make sure all traffic is clear in the intersection before proceeding.

The last scenario involves a vehicle that is stopped in the middle of an intersection in order to make a left-hand turn but there is a steady stream of traffic in the other direction preventing him from making the left turn despite the fact that his light is green or yellow. Because there is no gap in the traffic, the vehicle that wants to make a left-hand turn is unable to do so until the traffic light turns to red.

Once the traffic light turns red, the vehicle that had entered the intersection but was unable to make a left-hand turn, then makes a left-hand turn and then is hit by a car that is either coming from the right and left and who is now entering the intersection on a green light. In this scenario the vehicle that had the green light would be considered at fault because the car that was attempting to make a left-hand turn had a right to clear the intersection, even on the red light.

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