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Steering Clear of the Yellow Light Trap

Have you ever heard of the Yellow Light Trap? How about the Lag Trap, or even the Left Turn Trap? If you haven’t, don’t worry. CDE Collision Centers (Hammond) knows that most drivers don’t know about it until it’s too late.

Here’s the scenario: You are in the center of a multi-lane intersection in Hammond that is regulated by traffic lights, and you look for a safe break in oncoming traffic to make a left turn. You enter the intersection during a green light, and then it turns yellow. You make the turn with the knowledge and confidence that the opposing traffic also has a yellow, thereby giving you free access to safely make the turn. You accelerate on the gas, go into the turn and in the blink of an eye collide with an oncoming vehicle. Why did this happen? You took every known precaution and still fell victim to the dreaded Yellow Light Trap.

yellow light

What most drivers don’t know is that even while they’re making a left turn on a yellow light, it doesn't necessarily mean that the opposing cars also have a yellow light. In other words, many traffic lights in  Hammond, IN are not correctly staggered and when you assume that the other drivers have a yellow light, their light may still green. That’s when the drama starts!

Don’t Trust ANY Traffic Light to Be Right!

Some reports show that this problem stems from challenges in programming old traffic signal control software, while others prefer to lay the blame on the introduction of newer electronic traffic light equipment that leaves drivers not enough time to make a completed left. Others have even pointed fingers at traffic engineers or technicians who do not understand or fully believe that the Yellow Light Trap is a serious hazard for drivers. Some traffic websites will even state that it’s all the drivers’ fault!

left turn accident

Regardless of who is at fault, CDE Collision Centers (Hammond) has some tips for you to use so to steer clear of the Yellow Light Trap.

  • While waiting to make a left turn at an intersection where there is oncoming traffic, always anticipate that another car can and will block your turn no matter what color signal light is facing them. People are always in a hurry and in many cases they feel as though their left turn is more important than yours.
  • It’s best (if you can) to avoid entering an intersection where you have to make a left turn on a yellow light. This will reduce the probability of the lag trap, at least with that particular light sequence. If you’re familiar with Hammond, avoiding tricky lights is always suggested.
  • Turn when there is only a safe and clear gap in opposing traffic. Most states allow cars to complete the turn if the intersection was entered before the light turned red. In this situation, the oncoming traffic must yield right of way to allow the car to complete its turn.  
  • It’s important to be alert at all times as things happen quickly on the road. Keep your head on a swivel and don’t text or talk on the phone.

No matter what, drivers should remain cautious and rely on their common sense and observation skills to remain alert when making left hand turns across oncoming traffic. Stay out of the Yellow Light Trap, my friends, and remember—safety is surely no accident.

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