Tag Archives: green light

Green light doesn’t confer unlimited right to proceed

The in basket: A Road Warrior blog commenter in December, who signed as Lonna, is upset with the yellow flashing left-turn signals Kitsap County uses. She said she got into an accident at one, but didn’t say where.

“I approached an extremely busy intersection with four lights for the left turning lane,” she said. Her signal was green. “As I was crossing over the crosswalk, it turned to a flashing yellow arrow. I proceeded to yield to oncoming traffic then it turned a solid yellow arrow. The oncoming traffic was still thick and there were no gaps for me to complete my left turn.

“When I finally got my chance to turn, my light turned red. The person to the left of me was at a red stop light waiting to make her turn when her light turned green and she took off right away and gunned it. As I was completing my left turn, she smashed into me.

“Now it’s a big mess. My car was totaled and my son and I have serious neck injuries. Her insurance company is trying to say that we are both at fault 50/50.

“I know that the rules of the road are that just because your light turned green doesn’t mean you can go. You must make sure the intersection is clear of any traffic, pedestrians, emergency vehicles or hazards.

“I think these lights are ridiculous and maybe set that way intentionally to cause these accidents so the city can make money. There has gotta be a better way!”

I recall in my youth hearing of something called the “last clear chance” rule, meaning a driver can be deemed at fault in an accident if he or she was clearly able to avoid an accident set up by the illegal actions of another driver, but proceeded anyway.

I asked State Trooper Russ Winger about that and how he views the situation Lonna describes.

The out basket: Russ said he is not familiar with the ‘last clear chance’ law.

But “the situation your reader found herself in is fairly simple,” he said. “She is correct IF she was in the intersection legally waiting to make the left turn. She would have the right of way to complete her turn. The driver that was stopped at a red light and proceeding on green when the light changed … must yield to vehicles already legally transiting the intersection.

“If your reader’s scenario is factual, then I do not agree that (she is) 50 percent at fault or even at fault. I would, in fact, write the other driver an infraction for fail to yield right of way.”

The county has begun adding signs to signals with the yellow flashing left turn indicators, making it clear that those turning must yield, and recently decided the Kitsap Mall Boulevard-Randall Way intersection in Silverdale is too complex to keep them there.

And the state doesn’t use them at its intersections.

But they are very popular with most drivers, me included. They reduce time spent waiting and pollution discharged from idling vehicles, and reduce the length of holding area needed in left turn lanes. I’d hate to see them go.


There’s hope for a change at Burwell & Warren

The in basket: A lot of people use the time they spend sitting at the red light on eastbound Burwell Street at Warren Avenue in Bremerton wondering why they have to sit there. The inside lane, dedicated to those wanting to turn left onto Warren, obviously must be stopped while westbound Burwell traffic has the green light. But the only conflict with those in the outside lane, who can only go straight,  is the extremely rare car turning left into a parking lot there.

Jeff David and H.W. Slach are among those to write saying those infrequent left turns could be made to yield to oncoming traffic – or be prohibited altogether – so the eastbound Burwell traffic could have a green light and wouldn’t have to wait for both lanes to get a green light.

Jeff said, “If the curb lane was given a green light eastbound (make the center lane left-only to East Bremerton and make it red), while the ferry traffic is going west, it would move more traffic to the ferry and downtown.

“I have watched the eastbound traffic and very few go straight in the center lane,” he said. “I am sure our city light engineers could make the light changes.”

The out basket: Back last fall, Project Engineer Brenden Clarke of the state’s downtown ferry tunnel project said they tried that, but two years of nothing but left turns from both lanes while the tunnel was being built had created some driver expectations that created collision hazards.

I asked if the passage of time might make it safer now to let that outside eastbound lane go when westbound traffic has the green light, and he said the tunnel has been finished long enough that’s now the city of Bremerton’s call.

And the city might do it, but only as part of broader review. It has a downtown traffic study coming up that might result in some changed traffic flows – making Fourth Street one-way eastbound is the change most often mentioned.

The study won’t deal with Burwell, but city street engineer Larry Matel says, “The city does have a modest amount of funds in our budget that could be used for traffic signal optimization in the Burwell corridor from downtown to Callow and on to Highway 3.

“This effort would be outside of the current downtown effort and would most likely begin after the downtown effort is completed, probably this fall.”