When the light goes green
It’s very important to scan intersections when the light changes to green, especially when you’re the first car at the intersection. Immediately after the light has changed from red to green, and with your foot still on the brake pedal, look as far to the left as you can, check the center, then right, and left again, to make sure it is safe. Don’t assume that a red light can stop a car. A car will stop for a red light only if the driver sees it and decides to stop. There are many reasons why a driver may go through a red light, including a medical emergency, being distracted, impaired, or even asleep. A green light does not mean “go”; green means “go only if it is safe.” It’s up to you to look before you proceed. If there are other cars already in the intersection, you are legally required to yield to them, even when the light is green.
Why do we look left first?
Provided that vehicles are travelling on the correct half of the road (to the right of the yellow line), the car on your left would run into you first if it were to go through an intersection against a red light (or against any traffic control signal).
Say you’re in the white car and your light has just gone green. If these two vehicles (the red and the green cars) went through the red light, the one on the left is closer to you (and would run into you on the driver’s side). Of course, if there were no vehicle running through the red light on your left, then by all means the one on the right would run into you first. Simply make it a habit to scan left, centre, right, and then left again before proceeding when your light goes green. This is the type of habit that could save your life one day.
A green light doesn’t always mean go – DriveSmartBC