Ask a Trooper: What if I slide into an intersection?
Question: Say I'm driving on a road and the light turns yellow but as I brake, I begin sliding and the light goes red and I end up finally stopping in the intersection. Do I continue forward or should I reverse back? I understand it might be hard to decide depending on if there are vehicles in the other lane of the intersection who now have the green light.
Answer: There are a few good takeaways from this type of situation. Let's first revisit safe practices and what the law says regarding red lights and yellow lights. You may not enter an intersection when the light is red, even if it has only been red for a second. The yellow light is a warning that the light will soon change to red. You can proceed through a yellow light but make sure you slow down and are prepared to stop. Do not violate the yellow light rule by speeding up to try to get into the intersection before the light turns red.
In general, if you're in the intersection and the light has changed to red, make sure the intersection is clear from all approaches and clear it in the safest manner possible.
In your specific example, you have to get through the intersection safely at this point and get out of the way of the cross-traffic that is about to enter the intersection. Law enforcement might witness how and when you enter the intersection and determine if you violated the yellow light rule or had gone through a red light.
The most important takeaway is, try not to put yourself in this situation in the first place. Follow the posted speed limits, slow down when approaching an intersection and be prepared to stop, if needed, when it turns yellow. If the road is slippery, we all need to increase our following distances and slow down enough so we can safely stop prior to an intersection.
Intersections can be very dangerous for all motorists. Make sure you are prepared to yield or stop at all intersections, even though you have a green or yellow light, just in case another driver makes a mistake and fails to yield. That's why it's important to be a defensive driver by driving with due care and avoiding all distractions.
A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow — Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, firstname.lastname@example.org).