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Left Turn in Front of Oncoming Red-Light Runner

On Lawyer & Legal » Traffic Law

10,328 words with 7 Comments; publish: Fri, 08 Aug 2008 21:04:00 GMT; (80093.75, « »)

My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: Ohio

Was nearly in an accident today. I was wanting to make a left turn, and I had the green. I pulled forward into the intersection to wait for a break in oncoming traffic, because that's legal here.

With no break in the oncoming traffic the light turned yellow, then red. I started to make my turn and an oncoming car ran the red light nearly hitting me.

Who would be at fault, assuming I could prove they ran the red light.

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  • 7 Comments
    • Quoting
      My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: Ohio

      Was nearly in an accident today. I was wanting to make a left turn, and I had the green. I pulled forward into the intersection to wait for a break in oncoming traffic, because that's legal here.

      With no break in the oncoming traffic the light turned yellow, then red. I started to make my turn and an oncoming car ran the red light nearly hitting me.

      Who would be at fault, assuming I could prove they ran the red light.

      You would be. You weren't supposed to pull forward in anticipation of a break in traffic. You're supposed to stay behind the line, in case the light changes before you can turn. That way you're not blocking cross traffic. The car going straight has the right of way when compared to a car making a turn. Plus, if the brakes of the car going straight give out (just an example), you aren't in their path. Plus, based on your story, you don't move forward when the light is yellow. Yellow isn't the new green. And you certainly don't move forward when its red. You talk about the oncoming car running a red light - so did you.
      #1; Fri, 08 Aug 2008 21:30:00 GMT
    • Quoting
      There are two theories that could apply here, and it really depends on the status of the law in Ohio.

      One theory is that you are required to yield to oncoming traffic until it is safe to make the turn.

      The other is that the other driver ran the red light.

      Then it comes down to whether it can be proven the other light WAS red. Dollars to donuts if he had slammed into you, he'd argue that the light was NOT red, and you turned in front of him. Then, fault might revert back to the unsafe left turn theory.

      Ultimately, if it could be established that the person who broadsided you had run a red light, then he would likely be assigned fault in any police report.

      But, I am unfamiliar with the status of traffic law in Ohio, and the practice COULD be in the other direction - I can't say for certain. Out here, the person running the light would almost certainly be assigned fault if that could be reasonably established.

      - Carl

      Understood. Another of those gray areas that rely on proof. I think from now on I'll just hover inthe middle until I'm sure the oncoming cars are going to stop on red and not just assume they will. Plus, legal liability is the least fo your concerns if you get t-boned by an F350 dually doing 65mph.

      The flip side of that is the cross traffic might think I'm running the red by virtue of being stranded there. More than once I've had cross traffic set off then slam the brakes on when they got close to me in that fake "You cut me off" way - even though they can see I've been there since it was green.

      #2; Sat, 09 Aug 2008 11:56:00 GMT
    • I'm trying to figure out, based on what you posted, what was your "indication to proceed". Was it the red light?
      #3; Sat, 09 Aug 2008 12:08:00 GMT
    • There are two theories that could apply here, and it really depends on the status of the law in Ohio.

      One theory is that you are required to yield to oncoming traffic until it is safe to make the turn.

      The other is that the other driver ran the red light.

      Then it comes down to whether it can be proven the other light WAS red. Dollars to donuts if he had slammed into you, he'd argue that the light was NOT red, and you turned in front of him. Then, fault might revert back to the unsafe left turn theory.

      Ultimately, if it could be established that the person who broadsided you had run a red light, then he would likely be assigned fault in any police report.

      But, I am unfamiliar with the status of traffic law in Ohio, and the practice COULD be in the other direction - I can't say for certain. Out here, the person running the light would almost certainly be assigned fault if that could be reasonably established.

      - Carl

      #4; Sat, 09 Aug 2008 10:46:00 GMT
    • Quoting
      Understood. Another of those gray areas that rely on proof. I think from now on I'll just hover inthe middle until I'm sure the oncoming cars are going to stop on red and not just assume they will. Plus, legal liability is the least fo your concerns if you get t-boned by an F350 dually doing 65mph.
      True enough. If you are paralyzed, being in the right will be of little comfort.

      I almost always wait to see what oncoming traffic will do at a red before I start that turn - even when i think they have a red light.

      And moburkes' question is valid - why do you think the other driver had a red light?

      It might be possible that your direction had the red light, and the other direction was green - perhaps as a result of a left turn lane or some such thing. Unless you know with absolute certainty that both directions are timed to cycle identically, it is a dangerous assumption to make that they are.

      - Carl

      #5; Sat, 09 Aug 2008 12:16:00 GMT
    • Quoting

      And moburkes' question is valid - why do you think the other driver had a red light?

      It might be possible that your direction had the red light, and the other direction was green - perhaps as a result of a left turn lane or some such thing. Unless you know with absolute certainty that both directions are timed to cycle identically, it is a dangerous assumption to make that they are.

      - Carl

      That's an interesting point and one that I was thinking about this morning. In this particular intersection I know the cycle, and I chose to move based upon the combination of my light turning red plus the car the other oncoming lane stopped. However, I now recognize that I can't know for sure if their lane had a red. Something for me to think about. Live and learn. In this instance they DID have red (cross traffic set off immediately) but I can't know that for sure in other situations.

      I guess I can live with the cross traffic honking at me while I wait to be sure the oncoming traffic is stopped.

      #6; Sat, 09 Aug 2008 12:36:00 GMT
    • Quoting
      You would be. You weren't supposed to pull forward in anticipation of a break in traffic. You're supposed to stay behind the line, in case the light changes before you can turn. That way you're not blocking cross traffic. The car going straight has the right of way when compared to a car making a turn. Plus, if the brakes of the car going straight give out (just an example), you aren't in their path. Plus, based on your story, you don't move forward when the light is yellow. Yellow isn't the new green. And you certainly don't move forward when its red. You talk about the oncoming car running a red light - so did you.
      1) In Ohio you ARE allowed to pull forward into the intersection on green in anticipation of making a left turn.

      http://www.bmv.ohio.gov/pdf_forms/HSY-7607.pdf

      Look at the last sentence of the last paragraph of page 32. "One may advance into the intersection as a prelude to turning, provided that no other traffic control signals prohibit this action."

      2) You said "You talk about the oncoming car running a red light - so did you." This is not true in Ohio.

      Quote:
      ORC 4511.13 C(1)

      Vehicular traffic, streetcars, and trackless trolleys facing a steady red signal alone shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until an indication to proceed is shown except as provided in divisions (C)(2) and (3) of this section.

      Given that the law specifically allows a driver to enter an intersection on green in anticipation of turning left AND the law states that the driver shall stop before entering the intersection while the signal is red... That combination does not allow for a left-turner who has already advanced into the intersection to be guilty of running a red light if the light turns red while they are already in the intersection.

      My post stated that I entered the intersection on Green, which is legal, and was clearing out the intersection after it turned red, and that the oncoming car *entered* the intersection on red.

      I acknowledge that your state may be different. But in Ohio I did not run the red. The question is "Does a left-turner have a duty to yield the right-of-way to oncoming drivers that run the red?"

      #7; Sat, 09 Aug 2008 09:12:00 GMT