Adventures in the left-turn lane.

Question: What do you get when you try to cross a Chrysler Sebring with a Pontiac Grand Prix?

Answer: One hell of a mess.

Yes folks, your’s truly got to answer that question the hard way this evening and the photo to the right shows the results. I was at a stop light in the left turn lane waiting on the green arrow. The light turned yellow and the oncoming cars all started to brake so I started to make my turn when I realized at the last second that one car wasn’t braking along with the rest of them. I hit my brakes, but the oncoming Chrysler didn’t and he plowed into my right fender almost exactly on the wheel itself.


When I realized what was about to happen I managed to brace myself for the impact and I walked away from the accident relatively unharmed. I banged my left knee against the steering column pretty good giving it a nice bruise and some minor numbness in the leg, but no broken bones. My left arm is a little achy and my right palm is a little sore, but otherwise I’m OK. My airbags didn’t even go off. The elderly couple in the other car were not doing as well. Both were complaining of pain and were taken away by ambulance to a local hospital. They both had their seat belts on and their airbags did deploy and the paramedics felt they were going to be OK.

Learned something new about Michigan traffic laws today as well. The police said I was at fault for failing to yield to oncoming traffic even though they should have been stopping for the light. Because it was a late yellow and not a full-on red light they didn’t even get ticketed, but even if it had been red the only difference would be that we would both get tickets. Seems that under Michigan law it’s always the responsibility of the guy making the turn to yield to oncoming traffic no matter what.

So, I’m OK, but a little emotionally upset. Money being tight already this is the last thing I need just before the holiday season and being at fault under the law opens me up for lawsuits. We have pretty good insurance, though, and I had full coverage so I suppose it should all work out in the end, but it’s still a tad upsetting. Hopefully you guys had a better day than I did.

20 thoughts on “Adventures in the left-turn lane.

  1. Sorry to hear about the accident.  I’d question the ticket if I were you.  The exact same thing happened to me about 5 years ago except the light was red instead of yellow.  I was not ticketed at all, the driver of the car that ran the red light was ticket(The accident happened in SE Michigan).

  2. I may yet question it. Will definitely be checking the books to see if I can come up with the relevant legal code. I’ve got 20 days to make a decision on it so there’s no need to rush.

  3. Must say that really blows!  As long as your OK… But really, your at fault?  How bizzarre… Rules like that would’t be easy to enforce in court i imagine, cos’ its a human error thing..

  4. Glad to hear that you’re ok.  One question though.  When you say the light was turning yellow I assume that means theirs was turning yellow and you had a green light but were about to get the green arrow?

  5. Les, there is an easier way to get a compact car you know.

    Glad to hear you weren’t badly hurt…physically anyhow.

  6. Man I would be ill!  Glad you’re OK.  I heard a “rumor” that the elderly man was none other than Pat Robertson and you kamakazied (spelling) your vehicle to try to take out Pat!  I’m not saying it’s true…I’m just telling you what I heard!

  7. Thanks everyone. I am OK other than being a bit sore and tired this morning.

    Chief, the intersection had a left-turn lane signal that prompts you with a green arrow after the standard signals turn red. So the standard signals had turned yellow (for both directions) and the left turn signal was blinking red when I started my turn, by the time the vehicle that hit me did so I had a green arrow. So I started early and they were trying to beat the yellow and entered the intersection literally just before it went red. Had they been braking at all the light would’ve been red before they got close to the intersection. The couple in the other car were pretty old and it’s possible the driver never even noticed the light was changing. I’m hoping they’re OK.

  8. Money being tight already this is the last thing I need just before the holiday season and being at fault under the law opens me up for lawsuits.

    If you have good insurance, and money really is tight, I wouldn’t worry much about being sued.  There a few hard-and-fast, eternal truths in the law, and one is this: Sue someone who can actually pay you.  Another is: Juries don’t like big corporations.  Given the choice between suing a major insurance carrier with gobs of money and a middle-class family living in a rented apartment, a lawyer won’t take very long to decide.  Of course, that’s why people buy insurance in the first place.

  9. wow, glad you are ok. sorry to hear that by law you were in the wrong, that just doesn’t seem right.  oh and by the way, I think it was the way the planets are aligned right now.

  10. Really sorry, but ANY time you’re the one deviating from the flow of traffic, the burden of responsibility is yours.  The other guy was simply traveling in a straight line (with the flow). As for the color of the traffic light, that becomes a “he-said, she-said” scenario. The way it sounds, your light was not yet green??
    Also, as the party making the left turn, the powers-that-be will say that you did so when it was not yet safe. 

    That comes from four depressing and bitter years as a claims adjuster.

  11. Thanks for the clarification.  Most of the left turn lights here in Dallas, TX are yield on green and you are free to go on the green arrow.  We do however have the occasional left turn on arrow only (man I hate those, seems you get there just as the arrow goes red).  Seeing as how technically you started when the arrow was red I could understand how by law you are responsible.  It still stinks that the other car didn’t stop.  But you know what they say. Red means stop, green means go, and yellow means go faster.

  12. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking as I read this:  “Oh man, that’s just what he needed” … but … I have a feeling it will all turn out okay.  I know, I know – you don’t believe in that kinda’ stuff, so I’ll make you a deal:  If everything turns out great, I get to say “I told you so”, and if it doesn’t then … then .. ummm … then I’ll call myself silly and let you tell ME I told you so!  LOL!  How’s that! *wink*

  13. I was involved in the exact same car accident one week ago. Turn left when light is already yellow for a while, and I was in the intersection when I tried to make left turn. A motorcycle from opposite direction didn’t stop and hit my car. Police gave me the ticket for failing to yield and didn’t give other side ticket.

  14. Damn you folks up in Michigan have a lot of laws!  I attempted to wade my way through all of the freaking statutes that govern the rules of the road to see if I can find an answer to the fault issue in your accident and decided that it just wasn’t worth it (sorry Les).  It’s amazing if anyone can walk away from an accident “fault free”, even – believe it or not – if they were standing completely still at the time of the accident.  This brings to mind another point.  With so many rules and regulations governing our behavior “Freedom” is clearly a matter of perspective – even speaking in relative terms.

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