Traffic control signals are absolutely crucial for the safe operation of vehicles throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Understanding red light laws is critical for drivers to maintain the safe flow of traffic. Here, our Philadelphia accident attorneys want to review the most pertinent laws related to red lights in Pennsylvania, including when you have to stop, when you can turn on red, and who has the right of way at an intersection.
Red Light Laws in Pennsylvania
When you approach a traffic signal that is illuminating steadily red, this indicates that you are required to stop before crossing the stop line or any crosswalk in place. If there are no lines, individuals should stop before going into the intersection.
At a red light, individuals typically must wait for a green light before they proceed forward.
In Pennsylvania, individuals are allowed to turn right at a red light UNLESS there are signs indicating that individuals are not allowed to turn “right on red.” If you are allowed to turn right on red, you must first come to a complete stop at the red light, check for and yield to any traffic for pedestrians, and then proceed to turn right.
In September of 2016, Pennsylvania’s “Ride on Red” law went into effect. This law allows for any type of vehicle to proceed forward at a red light if the traffic signal’s vehicle detection system is not working properly. These detection systems are designed to trigger the light to change so that the person who pulls up to the red light can proceed forward. If the vehicle detection system fails, the light will be stuck on red, and the individual unable to proceed.
However, under this law, there are very specific processes drivers must follow before they proceed through a red light. This law does not mean that stop lights can be treated as stop signs throughout the state. The light must be actively malfunctioning. There is no specific time frame that an individual has to sit at a red light before they proceed forward, but the state Department of Transportation and state police encourage individuals to use common sense.
In the event you see a flashing red light in Pennsylvania, this means the same thing as a solid red light. Individuals are required to come to a complete stop, but they are allowed to then proceed forward. A flashing red light is essentially an enhanced stop sign, but please understand that transportation officials chose to put a flashing red light in place for a reason. Often, this happens in areas where there is a higher likelihood that an accident will occur.
What to do at a Yellow Light in Pennsylvania
When an individual sees a steady yellow light, this means that there will be a red light very soon. Yellow lights mean that drivers on the roadway need to slow down and prepare to stop. If an individual is within the intersection or cannot stop safely before entering the intersection, then they are allowed to continue through when the yellow light is illuminated.
Contrary to what many drivers throughout the Commonwealth believe, yellow light does not mean “go faster.” Going faster through a yellow light could lead to a few devastating consequences, the least of which would be a citation from a law enforcement officer. Speeding up at a yellow light increases the risk that there will be a collision inside the intersection because other vehicles expect drivers to slow down.