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Why Do So Many Accidents Occur at Traffic Lights?

Causes of accidents at traffic lights

On average, a driver goes through several traffic lights a day. However, accidents commonly occur at traffic lights for many reasons. Unfortunately, over ⅓ of all intersection-related fatalities involve a traffic light. During peak traffic times, it can be challenging for a driver to determine who has the right of way or even who should be held liable if a collision occurs. Knowing the common causes of accidents at traffic lights can help you stay safe and may prevent a collision in the future.

What Are Common Causes of Motor Vehicle Collisions at Traffic Lights?

Common causes of accidents at traffic lights include:

Running a Red Light

When a driver fails to stop at a red light it often results in a motor vehicle collision, especially during peak traffic hours.

Failure to Yield

When it comes to who has to yield and who has the right of way, each intersection operates differently. A motor vehicle collision occurs when a driver does not apply the rules correctly or doesn't know the rules.

Misjudging Traffic

Every motorist needs to be fully aware of the road and be able to judge the speed of other vehicles at an intersection. Some motorists will speed through yellow lights instead of reducing their speed. Drivers who want to turn right may misjudge the speed of traffic or misjudge another driver's intentions.

Malfunctioning Traffic Lights

A malfunctioning traffic light can cause confusion and may result in a collision, especially if a motorist isn't cautious or fails to pay attention. When a traffic light malfunctions, a motorist must stick to the rules of the road, which includes coming to a complete stop.

Following Too Closely

Each driver has a duty to drive a safe distance from vehicles in front of them. Many rear-end accidents occur at traffic lights when the motorist in the rear is following too closely, preventing them from stopping quickly enough to avoid a collision.


When a driver speeds, it can take them significantly longer to slow down or stop, which can make an accident unavoidable.

Distracted Driving

Drivers may fail to see a traffic light change or may not notice that another vehicle has the right of way if they're texting, talking on the phone, or eating or drinking while driving.

Driving While Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol

If a driver is operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they can cause an accident at a traffic light by disobeying the traffic signals or by driving recklessly.

Driving Carefully in Inclement Weather

When heavy rain or fog makes driving dangerous, all motorists must slow down, going even below the posted speed limit, otherwise they will not be able to safely drive through an intersection.

How Can I Prove Fault in a Traffic Light Accident?

The following types of evidence can help prove liability if you were involved in an accident at a traffic light due to the negligence of another driver:

Video Footage

Obtaining video footage is one of the best ways you can prove the other driver was at fault. Most intersections will have a traffic camera. In other cases, a driver may have a dash cam, which can capture the accident.

Eyewitness Testimony

If anyone witnessed the car crash, their testimony can help strengthen your case. After an accident, obtain the contact information of anyone who witnessed your collision.

Forensic Evidence

Evidence gathered at the scene of the accident can help determine which party caused the collision. Photos of broken glass, vehicle damage, faulty traffic lights, or skid marks can all be used as evidence.

Speaking with a Car Accident Attorney

Contacting a car accident lawyer as soon as possible following a motor vehicle collision can be the best step you take toward recovering the compensation you're owed for an accident that was caused by the negligence of another. An attorney can investigate the crash and gather vital information that will prove negligence and your demand for compensation.

Contact Us Today!

If you were involved in an auto accident that was caused by a negligent motorist, contact the auto accident lawyers at MVP Accident Attorneys today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our accident attorneys have extensive experience handling complex auto accident claims and know how to build a strong case that can help you recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and more.


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Brett Sachs

Brett S. Sachs graduated from Michigan State University College of Law with Cum Laude Honors. While attending Michigan State, Brett was awarded for his service in the Michigan State University College of Law Civil Rights Clinic, where he represented prisoners of the Michigan Department of Corrections from injustices brought upon them. Learn more.

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