In 2022, disregarding traffic signs and signals caused numerous traffic crashes in Texas. However, running traffic signs and signals may lead to fewer collisions than distracted driving and speeding do. 

Nevertheless, these accidents injure or kill thousands of Texas motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists every year. Understanding what drivers must do at a yellow light tells you whether anyone is liable for the losses resulting from these crashes.

Texas Laws On Red and Yellow Lights

Texas traffic laws treat red and yellow lights differently. Specifically, when a driver approaches a solid red light, they must stop at a stop line or a crosswalk if no such line exists. If neither a crosswalk nor a stop line is present, the driver must come to a stop before entering the intersection.

A driver facing a solid yellow light has very different requirements. Texas law does not require them to stop. Instead, a yellow light only indicates that the movement allowed by a green light is being terminated and that a red signal is imminent.

By itself, proceeding through a yellow light would not justify a traffic ticket. In other words, running a yellow light is legal in Texas because you are not required to stop. However, a police officer could issue a ticket if certain contributing factors accompanied the yellow light. 

Some factors include:

  • Speeding to make the yellow light
  • Entering the intersection so late that the light turns red
  • Inadvertently running a yellow light due to distractions

These circumstances might provide grounds for a traffic ticket. An officer could even arrest you for reckless driving.

Running Yellow Lights Can Cause Crashes

There can be worse consequences for running a red light than being issued a traffic ticket. For instance, a driver who runs a yellow light can cause a car accident, particularly if the light turns red before the driver clears the intersection. Similarly, running a yellow light during a left turn can result in a collision with an oncoming vehicle or even a pedestrian or cyclist crossing the road.

Drivers bear liability for crashes that result from negligence. Negligence means the driver failed to exercise reasonable care and injured another road user as a result. Reasonable care is an objective standard. To show negligence, you do not need to prove the driver knew they acted negligently. Instead, you only need to show that the driver should have known better.

Negligence and Yellow Light Running

Even though running a yellow light does not violate any traffic laws, it can still constitute negligence. The circumstances will determine whether a driver’s actions were reasonable. If, for example, the light was green when the driver entered the intersection and turned yellow before they exited, the driver might have acted reasonably.

In contrast, suppose that the light turned yellow before the driver entered the intersection. If they had time to stop, their choice to enter the intersection could have been an act of negligence. In turn, they might bear the liability for any resulting crash.

The argument in favor of negligence becomes even stronger if the driver combined their running of the yellow light with another dangerous driving behavior, such as:

  • Tailgating
  • Speeding
  • Failing to yield to pedestrians

In this case, your lawyer would argue that a reasonable driver would know not to combine these dangerous behaviors with running a yellow light. As a result, that driver’s decision to do so could be considered negligent because it exposed other road users to an unreasonable risk.

Although drivers do not usually get a ticket for running a yellow light in Texas, doing so can cause crashes. Disobeying a yellow light might support a negligence claim against them, making them liable for any resulting injuries or deaths. Speak with a lawyer to learn more about the legal risks of running yellow lights.

Contact a Houston Car Accident Lawyer to Help You With Your Claim

For more information, contact the Houston personal injury law firm of Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers by calling (713) 500-5000.

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Houston, TX 77098

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