Some drivers perceive the amber or yellow traffic light as a signal to speed up and clear the intersection before the light changes to red. This reaction can lead to accidents, making amber traffic lights more dangerous than some may realize. The danger, however, isn’t inherently in the amber light but in driver behavior in response to this signal.
Misjudging their time to cross safely
Many drivers misinterpret the amber signal, warning that the light is about to turn red. Drivers should reduce their speed and come to a stop during this phase. However, some may misjudge the time left to clear the intersection, speeding up instead of slowing down. This can lead to collisions if the light changes to red sooner than expected or other vehicles are already entering the intersection.
Sudden or abrupt breaks
On the other hand, some drivers might react to an amber light by stopping abruptly, even when they have enough time and space to drive through the intersection safely. If the drivers behind them are unprepared for this sudden stop, it could lead to rear-end collisions.
In both scenarios, the yellow light – intended to promote safety by signaling drivers to prepare to stop – can inadvertently contribute to car accidents due to misjudgment or sudden changes in driving behavior.
California’s response to amber light risks
In 2014, California updated its traffic light rules. The yellow light duration is now based on actual car speeds, not just speed limits. This adjustment adds about half a second to most yellow lights, offering drivers a bit more time to decide whether to stop for the red light or continue through the intersection safely.
However, it’s crucial to remember that driver impatience, distraction, poor judgment or misunderstanding of traffic laws can turn this cautionary signal into a risky situation. Despite the extra half-second added to the amber light duration, improving driver behavior is the key to reducing accidents.
Drivers involved in a rear-end collision may seek relief by visiting The Law Office of Aman N. Shah for guidance on their legal situation.