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Behind-the-Wheel

A yellow traffic light means stop

Obeying traffic signal lights

Believe it or not, in British Columbia a yellow traffic light tells you that you must stop before you enter the intersection.

Yes, I know there is one caveat to that statement, and it is "unless the stop cannot be made in safety." The onus is on the driver who does not stop for the yellow light to show that it was unsafe if they are involved in court proceedings because of their decision.

Is anyone able to tell me what a “stale” green light is? That's right, it's a traffic signal that will soon be turning from green to yellow. An example of a stale green light would be one that you have not seen turn green, so you don't know how long it has been that way, one that has a solid red hand "don't walk" signal facing the same direction of travel or perhaps the cross street has many vehicles waiting for the red.

The proper response when approaching a stale green light is to shadow the brake pedal. This means lifting your foot off of the accelerator and hovering it over the the brake. If a stop is needed, you are already almost there as you are beginning to slow and ready to brake.

A defensive driver knows about the traffic behind them when they drive. They actively adjust their position and speed to take into account poor driving behaviours shown by those around them. These actions minimize the hazard of being rear ended when stopping for a traffic signal.

A bad habit exhibited by many drivers that increases risk is the race to the traffic light. Speed is maintained until the last moment and then the brakes are applied. If the driver behind is not paying attention a collision may result. Beginning to slow in anticipation of the change is a safer choice to make.

Advance warning lights preceding some intersections are timed to allow a driver facing them to come to a safe stop for the pending signal change.

A traffic ticket for failing to stop for a yellow light will cost $167 and two penalty points.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



More Behind the Wheel articles

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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