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Can you drive through a yellow traffic light in Texas or should you stop? Here’s the law

Oct 26, 2023

Any driver should know that red traffic lights mean “stop” and green lights mean “go,” but whether yellow lights mean “slow down” or “go faster” may be up for debate.

Yellow lights, the temporary signal between a green and red light, give drivers seconds to make a decision on whether to slow down or speed up.

Yellow light change intervals have a minimum duration of 3 seconds and a maximum duration of 6 seconds, according to the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. The longer intervals are typically reserved for use on roadways with higher speed limits.

A 2022 study published by the National Library of Medicine found that lighting conditions influenced whether drivers sped up or slowed down at a yellow light.

The probability of a driver choosing to pass a yellow light was lower in the daytime than at night, possibly due to higher visibility of roadway conditions, according to the study.

Most yellow light roadway crashes happen due to drivers choosing to speed up to cross instead of slowing down or stopping, according to Texas-based the Zimmerman Law Firm.

Crashes can happen during a yellow light when a driver makes a left turn on a yellow light, speeds up or does not pay attention to the light change.

Texas law specifically states that a solid yellow light means the termination of a green light and that a red light is imminent, but it doesn’t outline whether to stop or speed up. recommends stopping at a yellow light or watching out for other vehicles in the intersection before crossing if you’re unable to stop.

Determining fault in a yellow light accident is difficult, however oncoming traffic holds the right of way during a yellow light. The Zimmerman Law Firm recommends drivers turning left on yellow should ensure they can make the turn safely before the light turns red.