Q&A - Clearing the Intersection on Left Turns
I’m hoping to get a clear answer to a question I’ve always had about whether or not to proceed and clear an intersection on a yellow light or to stay put until next green light.
It seems to me that you could easily get a ticket for proceeding yet just as easily get found at fault for not proceeding. Here are the details:
- controlled intersection with traffic lights
- may or may not have left turn slots, either apply
- crosswalks may be painted, stop lines are definitely painted
- drivers wishing to turn left legally enter the intersection on a green light
- the light changes to yellow, then red
- typically straightforward, once it is safe to do so drivers already in the intersection waiting to turn left proceed (seems to work fine 99% of the time, typically one or two cars have entered part of the intersection and proceed on yellow turning to red)
However….. - here’s the 1% where I see a grey area (ok, maybe more than 1%)
- you are turning left and have entered past the painted stop line and/or are blocking the crosswalk on a green light, the light changes to yellow then red
- you are not actually blocking any of the lane for crossing traffic nearest to you but are clearly well past the stop line and/or blocking a crosswalk
Scenario 1: you proceed as soon as it is safe to do so, typically on a yellow light, thus clearing the intersection
Is this correct? Legal? What if you are the 3rd car to proceed on yellow? What if you proceed on red due to a car in front of you hesitating to also clear the intersection or because oncoming traffics runs through late?
I suspect you could get a ticket for running a red light and would be advised you should have waited for the next light
Scenario 2: you decide to be more cautious and safe, you do not proceed and choose to wait for the next light
- you are in the same place as scenario 1, you are not blocking crossing traffic but are clearly past the stop line and/or blocking a crosswalk
- you wait, the light for you changes to next green cycle, you proceed with your left turn when safe
All good, right? Not so fast……
In scenario 2, a pedestrian crossing has to walk around your car to get past and gets hit by crossing traffic, you are ticketed for blocking the intersection or failing to clear it
ICBC finds you 100% or at least 50% at fault, you lose (not to mention potential further litigation)
You may or may not get ticketed but my experience is that either way, ICBC will find enough fault for it to be a claim (yes, the love 50/50 blame and yes, I’m not an ICBC fan)
In a similar scenario 2 situation, a car crossing from your right hits you while attempting to turn left around you (remember, you are protruding into the intersection but not into the near crossing lane)
Similarly, ICBC finds you 100% or at least 50% at fault, you lose (not to mention potential further litigation)
So the question is do you proceed as in scenario 1 and risk a ticket or do you stop as in scenario 2 and risk being found at fault for blocking the intersection?
I found this picture to help clarify.
In my scenario 2 (see original email further below) you are the yellow car at the top of the diagram and plan to turn left. You entered the intersection to where shown on a green light.
You end up in the same spot after the light changed red due to others in front of you also turning left who hesitated before clearing the intersection on the yellow light.
Assume you actually are even a bit further and are blocking the entire crosswalk BUT not past it.
I have driven in BC in all areas, in all conditions, for over 40 years. Terrace, Cranbrook, Ft. St. John, Victoria and just about everywhere in between.
I’ve had my share of ICBC “rulings” and can easily see this being a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Appreciate any comments you have and any details on what rules apply.