Drivesmart: Prepare to stop when yellow lights flashing

“When your light is green on the highway but above you the overhead warning lights have just begun should you be braking on a green light?”

Kate asks, “When your light is green on the highway but above you the overhead warning lights have just begun should you be braking on a green light?”

 

A yellow light tends to be perceived by drivers as a cautionary indication that they may either pay attention to or ignore depending on their experience and the road conditions at the time. This is generally true when the yellow light is flashing. The Motor Vehicle Act tells us that the driver of a vehicle facing the flashes of yellow light may cause it to enter the intersection and proceed only with caution, but must yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully in the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk.

 

However, a solid yellow light at an intersection tells a driver to stop. There is one exception to this rule and that is when stopping for the yellow light cannot be done safely.

 

Kate’s question really has two parts, the flashing yellow lights and the green light at the intersection. As you approach the intersection, you face the overhead warning light first and the intersection signal second. You are required to take each signal into account as you approach it, so the green light doesn’t play any part in the equation until after you have passed the yellow flashing lights.

 

The overhead warning lights are timed such that a driver approaching them may see the lights illuminate and know that the green light ahead will be yellow when they get to the intersection. The driver will be required to stop and have the time to realize it, prepare and come to a comfortable stop before the crosswalk.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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