It’s normal, to some degree, to see people trying to “beat” red lights by speeding up to get through an intersection or area where a light has just turned yellow.
Unfortunately, this is dangerous. They could hit someone and cause a serious, or potentially fatal, collision.
Just how dangerous is running yellow and red lights?
In 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that over 800 people were killed after being involved in crashes with people running traffic signals. Another 137,000 or more were injured because of the same issue.
Why do people do this when they know that running a yellow light is so dangerous? It comes down to distractions and rushing. Some people don’t pay enough attention and don’t notice that a green light has turned yellow. Others are in a hurry and speed up when the light turns, so that they can beat the red light and get to their destination faster.
In either case, trying to rush through a yellow light may result in crashes if the light turns red before they expect it to or if the signals are on tight timing. In cases where the timing is tight, traffic coming from the other direction may have a green light as soon as the red light appears, which leaves little room for error.
When is it reasonable to go through a yellow light?
It makes sense that you’d go through a yellow light if your vehicle was already a few yards away from the light or in the process of entering the intersection. After all, vehicles don’t stop on a dime, and no one wants to see you slam on your brakes. If you can’t stop before reaching the light safely and it just turned yellow, then get through it quickly but be cautious when doing so.
There are serious consequences to running yellow (and red) lights
Unfortunately, there are serious consequences that can occur if a person runs a yellow light as it turns red. There is an increased risk of side-impact collisions and also a higher risk of hitting pedestrians or cyclists who begin to cross at the cross walk.
If you’re hit because someone doesn’t stop, then they will likely be held liable for running a red light. In your own life, remember that yellow lights are a warning. If you can stop before they turn red, do so every time.