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What Are the Rules for Drivers at a Red Light or Stop Sign?

Published on Feb 18, 2022 at 3:12 pm in car accident.

stop sign

Intersections can be confusing even for the most well-seasoned drivers. It may even seem like everyone approaches red lights and stop signs a little differently, some choosing to stop while others quickly roll through.

While you might be tempted to simply go along with what everyone else is doing, it is best to stick to the rules of the road to help limit the risk of an accident or serious injuries.

We will also address some red light and stop sign traffic safety rules that you might find helpful in the following article. However, if you were recently involved in a car accident at an intersection, McMath Woods P.A. can help answer any question you may have.

Red Light Rules

You’ll typically encounter traffic lights at four-way intersections, although you can sometimes also find them when one road dead ends into another. When the traffic light is red it is a clear indication to stop. But how far back should you stop?

You must come to a complete stop before the crosswalk or the line that marks where the intersection starts. If there is no crosswalk or indication line painted on the road, you must make sure you stop far enough back that you are not in the actual intersection.

Coming to a full and complete stop is important. This is true even if you plan to make a right-hand turn. Completely stopping your vehicle gives you the chance to look out for potential safety issues, including:

  • Oncoming drivers who have the right-of-way
  • Pedestrians crossing where you intend to turn
  • Bicyclists approaching the traffic light on your right

So what happens if you roll through a red light while making a right hand turn? Hopefully, no gets injured. However, if a police officer is around and spots you failing to reach that full and complete stop, you could be slapped with a traffic ticket. A red light violation is considered a misdemeanor and comes with fines and even potential jail time.

Left Turn at a Red Light

Making a left turn when the light is red is illegal…most of the time. In Arkansas, there is actually one situation in which making a left turn at a red light is perfectly legal. If you are stopped at a red light waiting to turn left onto a one-way road, you can safely proceed with that turn after coming to a complete stop and making sure no one else is coming.

Texting at Red Lights

You probably already know that texting and driving is illegal in Arkansas. The rules are a little different at red lights, though. When fully stopped at a red light, you are allowed to send and read text messages.

Just because you are allowed to text at a red light does not mean that it is safe to do so, though. The average driver relies less on the light turning green as an indication to move and more on the movement of the surrounding cars. When the car in the front of you inches forward, you probably do, too.

If you are looking at your phone, you can easily misinterpret that slight inching forward of the car in front of you as an indication that the light has turned green. This type of behavior is a significant factor in rear-end collisions at red lights.

Stop Sign Rules

Just like with a red light, you must reach a full and complete stop at a stop sign. Where you stop matters, although the rules are slightly different in this situation. Here are your options for stopping safely and legally at a stop sign:

  • Prior to the crosswalk
  • If there is no crosswalk, at the stop line pained on the road
  • If neither of the above, at the point closest to the intersection where you have a clear view of oncoming traffic

You cannot roll through a stop sign to make a right hand turn, and you must always respect the right-of-way rules. The rules are simple enough, and the car that arrives first has the right of way to proceed. After that, the right of way passes to the car to the right and around the intersection in a counterclockwise fashion.

School Bus Stop Sign Rules

If you travel in the morning or afternoons, you’ve probably encountered your fair share of school buses on the road. The rules around passing a stopped school bus are strict, and for good reason. Children rely on drivers stopping a safe distance away in order to get on and off the bus as safely as possible.

School buses will put out their attached stop signs and flash red lights when children are boarding or getting off. These are the indications that it is time to stop.

Just coming to a stop is not enough, though. You must stop your vehicle at a distance of at least 30 feet from the school bus, and you cannot start moving again until the bus has put away its stop sign, turned off its flashing lights, and started moving again.

These rules apply on both 2-lane and 4-lane highways, even when there is a middle lane between opposite sides of traffic.

Red Light and Stop Sign Injuries

While you might feel fortunate to have survived a serious car accident, the story does not end there. The wreck might have turned your life upside down, leaving you with serious injuries, medical bills, and not enough income to address either issue. You do not have to handle this all on your own. Our team at McMath Woods P.A. can help walk you through your options for compensation, so be sure to contact us to set up your free consultation today.

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