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Automobile Collisions / Workers' Compensation

414-272-3636 877-412-7409

Green Light Right of Way

In Wisconsin right of way at a green light has several rules of the road in a MVA case. Under WCJI 1191, a driver entering an intersection with the light in his or her favor does not have an absolute right of way.  The driver, when entering the intersection, has the duty of maintaining an efficient lookout to determine the presence of other vehicles approaching his or her course of travel and must also exercise reasonable judgment in calculating the distance and speed of any approaching vehicles so as to determine whether such approaching vehicle will run the light.  If after such lookout and calculation it is apparent that the approaching vehicle is going to run the light, then the driver having the light in his or her favor must exercise ordinary care in an attempt to avoid a collision. If the driver entering the intersection with the light in his or her favor properly determined that any automobile approaching the intersection was traveling at such speed and was at such distance from the intersection that the approaching driver could, as a matter of physical fact, yield the right of way if the driver responded to the red light, then the driver with lights in his or her favor, after entering the intersection, need not make continuing observations to either side for approaching traffic.

As explain by WCJI 1190, Wisconsin statutes define "right of way" as the privilege to immediate use of the roadway. The statutes provide that vehicular traffic facing a green signal may proceed straight through or turn right or left unless a sign at the place prohibits either turn, but vehicular traffic shall yield the right of way to other vehicles and to pedestrians lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk at the time the signal is exhibited. "Vehicular traffic," includes any device in, upon, or by which persons or property may be transported or drawn upon a highway. "Adjacent" means near, close, or adjoining.  As here used, it refers to the crosswalk the driver of the vehicle will be compelled to cross if the driver moves straight ahead or the crosswalk the driver will be compelled to cross on the intersecting street if the driver turns right or left.

If both drivers claim the green light, under WCJI 1190.5, it was a physical impossibility for this to happen, in the absence of evidence that the lights were not in good working order.  It is for the jury to determine which driver the green light was facing and which driver, at that same time, the red light was facing as each driver proceeded into the intersection.

McCormick Law Office, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Believe in better.

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Milwaukee, WI 53202

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