Oregon Laws On Approaching a Yellow Traffic Light

Everyone intuitively knows that a yellow light means that they need to slow down. However, is that really what everybody does?

Some people slow down, and some people speed up. But what is actually supposed to be done, according to Oregon law, when approaching a yellow traffic light?

What the Yellow Light Means in Oregon

When we look directly at the most recent Oregon Drivers Manual, we can see that it says when approaching an intersection, “A steady yellow signal warns you that the signal is about to turn red. Stop before entering the intersection. If you cannot stop safely, you may then drive cautiously through the intersection. Cautiously means slowly and carefully. Pedestrians facing a yellow light must not start across the street unless a pedestrian signal directs otherwise.”

Even though this definition comes directly from an Oregon government document, we know that this does not necessarily clear up exactly what you should do when you are approaching a light and it turns yellow. Many people take the approach of “you know what to do when you are in the situation,” which should mean that a person uses their discretion to either continue through if they are unable to stop or slow down and come to a stop if they can.

Unfortunately, many will take a yellow light to mean they should step on the gas and try to get through the light before it turns red. This is almost always going to be a mistake. Nobody should ever move their foot to the gas pedal when a yellow light begins to flash. This could lead to devastating consequences, including a person continuing through the intersection after the light has turned red and slamming into other vehicles that have proceeded forward with their green light.

Even if a person makes it into the intersection with the light still yellow, they will only have one to three seconds to safely clear the intersection before cross traffic is given a green light. The only time a person should enter an intersection at a yellow light is if they can absolutely not come to a stop safely without doing so.

If you are sitting at a red light at an intersection and waiting for your light to turn green, we encourage you to take a moment before proceeding forward after the light turns green. Not long, maybe just a second or two, particularly if you are at the front of the traffic line. You need to be sure that there are no other vehicles coming from the other direction trying to get through their yellow light. The last thing you need is to proceed forward on a green light and then get T-boned by a driver that has now run their red light because they were trying to beat the yellow light.

Contact an Attorney for Injury Assistance

In the event you are injured in an accident at an intersection, regardless of whether or not the lights were changing color, you should reach out to a skilled Portland car accident attorney for help. In the event the incident was caused by the negligent actions of another driver, he should be able to recover various types of compensation for your losses. This includes, but is not limited to, coverage of all hospital and doctor bills, physical therapy or rehabilitation, property damage expenses, rental car assistance, pain and suffering damages, lost wages, and more.