Maybe treating it as a four-way stop is best

Long ago, I wrote about my annoyance at people who get the rules about malfunctioning lights backwards. I rather wish I had one of those "ignorant" people on the road today.

At the intersection leading into the train station, the lights were completely out. Four-way stop. I was going straight. As I stopped, the car next to me turning left started to go, so I did as well. Someone coming from the cross street in the far lane (on the other side of a full lane of traffic at a stop) plowed through the intersection and hit me.

As I sat in my car (the door was jammed, so I couldn't get out right away), I looked up to verify the lights were in fact dark. They were — in my direction only. The lights in the opposite direction, however, were flashing red, and the lights on the cross street, the one the other driver "plowed through", were flashing yellow.

We both acted on information we had; the street light just gave two completely different sets of information.

I made sure to point this fact out to the officer on the scene, who noted it. I do have to appear in court in a couple months to answer a charge of "careless driving" because I failed to yield to her yellow light, so I can only hope the judge will acknowledge the screwed up lights and realize I acted appropriately.

Of course, it wasn't until I was on the train in to work that I realized I should have taken pictures and video, especially of the lights in question.


Yakko Warner said...

Now, for the ranting.

I'm kicking myself for not getting video of the lights. I don't know if the officer noted the dead lights in my direction in the police report, after I pointed them out to him. (Aside from being shaken, I was concentrating on the insurance agent I was on the phone with and had difficulties hearing.)

I question whether the other driver was driving safely at all. Flashing lights and a whole lot of stopped cars should've been a hint to slow down. Her airbags deployed, which would suggest some speed was involved. (Although not definitively. The NHTSA states airbags typically deploy at about a 28mph collision with another vehicle, although it's only estimated and other factors apply.)

I will definitely fight the careless driving charge. The circumstances suggest I was doing the right thing at the right time. While I won't go so far as to say she should be cited for anything, I am confident that I was not "at fault".

Patrick Koepke said...

First, I hope you are alright. Lights malfunctioning is a great way for things like that to happen, and being T-boned is one of the most dangerous types of accidents to have.

Second, any info on your car (the Prius I assume) or do you need to wait for the insurance to look at it?

Last, you're right, images and video of the light would have gone a long way towards helping you. Is there a way you could contact the city's transportation folks and see if they have record of the malfunctioning lights? Since everything is computer controlled these days (and cameras on every intersection), maybe they have evidence to help your case.

BTW why didn't Mr. Turnleft get hit?

Yakko Warner said...

First, I think so. Just sore. I have a doctor appointment tomorrow morning though.

Second, the body shop has a preliminary estimate of $8200. Insurance hasn't looked at it yet, but that number is pretty close to totaling it. (I got a trade-in appraisal on it not that long ago, and that was only $6000.)

Last, I managed to find the number of the city traffic manager, and he confirmed when a tech went to check on the light, he noted the lights were completely dark in my direction. He told me he'd check to see what it takes to get an "official" statement to that effect. Court is in two months, so I have time to check back with him.

bookladydavina said...

Ouch.. hope everything comes back clear from the doctor's office. I know it took me forever to get back in working order after my accident a few years ago.. You're right that the other driver should have been paying attention to the visual cues, sounds like she was the careless one..