It is difficult to rule when both drivers who collided into each other insist they had a green light. Is no one at fault?
Determining who is at fault at the scene of a traffic accident is simply a matter of figuring out which person was careless, negligent or disobeyed a common traffic law.
Each state has a written vehicle code of traffic laws, which may be different from state to state, and each person who passes a driver’s test must learn, understand and know these rules.
A typical scenario
Upon approaching an intersection, you notice that you have a green light so you proceed to drive through the intersection. Suddenly, from the other side another car crashes into you. Both drivers exit their cars, discuss the accident and insist they each had the green light. Who is at fault?
This is a common scenario and although this may be difficult to determine who is right or wrong, with further investigation, witness statements and other evidence and solve the mystery. The one thing that is certain about this scenario is that one of the drivers is mistaken, and ran a red light.
First, it is rare that a traffic signal would be green in all directions in today’s advanced technology. I have been a Police Officer since 1981 and have only just heard that there was a traffic signal actually displaying green lights all around, and that was over 25 years ago.
Traffic signals today have advanced safety features. If there is a malfunction, the traffic signal will shut itself down or display red flashing lights all the way around, but not green.
As a driver, it can be easy to be on autopilot daydreaming and not really be paying attention to your driving and upon noticing a traffic signal ahead you will have a slight visual of the other side’s green light. Your brain registers that you have a green light, but in reality, it is red.
As the Police Officer on scene, and presenting this possibility to each driver, I would notice which driver would begin to think about this and start to doubt his conviction that his light was green.
I would also ask the drivers if there were other cars driving next to them when they drove through the intersection or did they notice any cars stopped? Was the sun in the sky blocking a clear vision for one driver? Are there any independent witnesses who saw the accident and can say what really happened?
Disposition of investigation
Upon the completion of the investigation and considering all the facts, there may be a conclusion where one of the drivers might come to a realization they were wrong and admit they probably ran the red light.
If each driver continues to insist that they had the green light and there is no further evidence to support otherwise, then as the Police Officer conducting the investigation, I would have to put down on the accident report my findings. I would consider how much evidence weighed against each driver, which driver had the most doubts and then list that driver as the one at fault and being the primary cause of the accident.
If you find yourself in this situation, it is critical that you find an independent witness to support your case