Know the Law: What Do the Stop Light Colors Really Mean?
A Guide to Florida Traffic Light Law.
It may seem universal, but as an experienced accident attorney in Gainesville, I have met many who do not know the law behind what traffic light colors really mean. The following is a detailed description of Florida Statute 316.075.
A circular green signal means drivers can drive straight ahead through the intersection. However, drivers going straight, turning right, and turning left at a green light, still must yield to those pedestrians and other drivers in the intersection or crosswalk lawfully. Pedestrians can walk ahead when facing this signal, as well.
A green arrow signal means the driver can travel in the direction in which the arrow indicates, but cautiously, keeping an eye out for other drivers and pedestrians in the intersection or crosswalk. A U-Turn is permitted here unless there is a sign saying U-Turns are not permitted. Here, pedestrians should not enter the crosswalk if the only signal indicated is the green arrow signal. Only if the signal is circular should a pedestrian enter the crosswalk.
A steady yellow signal tells the driver of the car approaching it that the light is about to turn from green, where the driver can freely enter the intersection, to red, where the driver must stop. This is a warning to the driver. The statute does not clearly state whether the driver should enter the intersection or come to a stop, but the driver must use judgment to decide whether he/she has enough time to enter the intersection safely before the light turns to red.
Pedestrians should also treat this signal as a warning that they do not have enough time to cross the intersection. Although a car might be able to safely cross the intersection before the light turns red, pedestrians, likely walking much slower than the cars, do not and should stop and wait for the next green light before crossing the street. Safety first!
A steady red signal means the driver approaching the intersection should come to a complete stop until the light turns green. Florida law states, however, that unless indicated otherwise by a sign, drivers approaching in the right lane of traffic at a steady red light may make a right turn, after first coming to a stop and yielding to pedestrians and other traffic already in the intersection or crosswalk.
One way streets have specific red light rules. When a driver is on a one way street with a red light signal, and the intersecting street is also a one way street traveling to the left, the driver must first stop in the farthest left lane and then may make a left turn, first yielding to any pedestrian or other traffic already in the intersection or crosswalk, just as with the right turn above.
Drivers facing a red light signal should stop before the crosswalk to allow pedestrians to safely make their way across the street. Pedestrians, just as cars, may not enter the intersection when facing the steady red light.
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