Maintaining the safety of our roads is a collective responsibility of each driver looking out for their fellow drivers. Knowing the traffic laws and using safe driving practices is crucial to keep the roads safe and reduce the possibility of accidents. Florida is one of the states with the most dangerous roads in the country. This makes it all the more important to be cautious and aware of the risks and adhere to traffic laws.
However, despite the personal care and responsibility we exercise, there may be instances in which other parties who share the road with us do not practice the same degree of caution and can be negligent in following the traffic laws. Something as simple as when to yield the right of way can be understood differently between drivers despite the law being clear on the procedure. When car accidents are caused by this kind of negligence, getting the help of an experienced Miami car accident attorney becomes crucial.
Charlip Law Group and its team of top-rated Miami personal injury attorneys are here to assist. We provide experienced legal assistance to Florida residents who have been injured in car accidents caused by the negligence of others. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at (305) 354-9313 to schedule a free consultation.
What a Flashing Yellow Light Means
Under the 2022 Florida Statutes for State Uniform Traffic Control, a yellow light that is flashing rapidly on a traffic sign means that drivers may proceed through the intersection or pass the signal with caution. Flashing yellow traffic signs is an indication that drivers should slow down and be more alert to their surroundings.
Not to be confused with flashing yellow lights, flashing yellow arrows are a relatively new addition to the list of traffic signals available on our roads, having only been introduced by the Federal Highway Administration nationwide in 2009. Research conducted by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program has determined that flashing yellow lights are safer and more efficient.
Compared to yield-on-green signs which can lead to confusion, flashing yellow arrows on stop signs allow drivers to be more vigilant when doing a left turn in intersections. The flashing yellow arrows also caused less delay as drivers can have more opportunities to make the turns than they would in a traditional three-light sign. Fewer accidents were also observed as drivers would not have to rush into the intersection to make the light as they could just make the turn under the flashing yellow sign.
In Florida, flashing yellow lights commonly indicate that there is a need for caution and that drivers must slow down. It can also mean that the light is turning red which, upon seeing the flashing yellow light, drivers should slow down to prepare to make a full stop. Flashing yellow lights can also be found in school crossings/zones and any sharp road curves to warn drivers to be aware of children and slow down accordingly.
In some instances, these types of traffic signs may also be used to warn drivers of any road construction or blockage and to advise of any potential dangers that may not be visible at high speeds. Even if the danger is not immediate, taking the appropriate precautions is necessary to be able to ensure the safety of your fellow drivers.
Responding to a Flashing Yellow Light in Traffic
As mentioned, flashing yellow lights are meant to advise drivers to exercise more caution as they approach intersecting roadways but there can be nuances that should be considered in practice.
In cases where there is a police officer assisting traffic in an intersection that also has a flashing yellow light, you should take note that the officer’s directions would take precedence over the traffic sign.
When you approach a flashing yellow light, you should:
- Reduce your speed: Slow down and be prepared to stop if necessary.
- Be aware of your surroundings: Keep an eye out for other vehicles, pedestrians, and any additional signage or signals that may accompany the flashing yellow light. In school zones, it is very important to be aware of any students crossing the road. If there is an enforcer in the zone, make sure to follow their instructions.
- Yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians: If you are turning left at an intersection with a flashing yellow light, yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians before proceeding.
- Proceed with caution: Remember that a flashing yellow light does not mean to stop completely, like a red light. It is a signal of caution that requires you to slow down and proceed with care.
There is no such thing as overemphasizing the need for caution in intersections. Two-thirds of all car accidents in the US happen in or around intersections. Most of these accidents happen when the lights are either red or yellow. While most drivers exercise caution, it can be hard to practice safe driving habits when there is a high traffic volume or if there are other hazards on the scene.
Driver behavior can vary. Some who practice defensive driving can see a flashing yellow light and slow down as intended. However, there may be instances where a driver becomes impatient and does not want to get stuck at a traffic light and instead speeds up to cross the intersection before the light turns red.
Drivers are not expected to be mind-readers and predict the behavior of their fellow drivers but this discrepancy is what increases the risk of car accidents. Each driver must exercise reasonable care and follow traffic rules to avoid accidents. When these rules are neglected, accidents can happen. In the example given, the second driver speeding up could have been behind the first driver who was slowing down. Such an incident can cause a rear-end collision which could cause serious injuries and property damage to those involved.
Determining who is liable in accidents caused by a discrepancy in driver interpretation of traffic signs may be resolved by going back to what traffic signs were intended to signal, such as to slow down to prepare and make a full stop. However, the fact remains that an accident still happened despite being completely preventable just because a person neglected to follow the traffic rules.
Florida law allows the injured party to file a personal injury claim against the liable party. If you have been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another driver, getting the help of an experienced Miami car accident attorney is crucial.
Led by top-rated Miami personal injury attorney David H. Charlip, our team of car accident lawyers at Charlip Law Group advocates for the rights of parties injured in traffic accidents. We provide quality legal assistance from the negotiation table to the courtroom in the interest of getting clients the maximum compensation possible in their cases.