Life Saving Habits: Scan Intersections Before Proceeding

Scan Intersections When the light goes green

What are we talking about here? I think we’re talking about that thing about how ‘green means go’ and basically how it’s not actually true. We are talking about the need to scan intersections before driving through them.

Scan Intersections When the Light Changes

This is especially important when you’re the first car at the intersection. If there’s going to be a collision at an intersection, it’s most likely to happen right around the time the lights are changing colors.

You must do this scan immediately after the light has changed. Make sure your foot still on the brake pedal. Just in case it’s not safe to go.

Look as far to the left as you can, check the center, then right, and left again. This is to make sure it is safe. Just because the light is green, doesn’t mean anything!

We always check the left side again because this is the side closest to us. It’s the most dangerous to us in our position in the driver’s seat.

Don’t assume that a red light can stop a car. A car will stop for a red light usually. But only if the driver sees it and decides to stop. I know, details, details…

There are many reasons why a driver may go through a red light. Some examples are 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.

This is due to a basic right of way rule that states we must yield to any road user who is in any space before us.

Scan Intersections: Why do we look left first?

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).

Scan Intersections

Say you’re in the white car and your light has just gone green. If these two vehicles went through the red light, the one on the left is closer to you. It would potentially 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, center, right, and then left again before proceeding when your light goes green. This is the crucial type of habit that could save your life one day.

And although we are talking about scanning at green lights, it’s not just this moment that we need to do it. We need to scan 4-way stops, 2-way stops, and many other intersections.


Carmen became a driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, Canada. She enjoys writing as much as driving, and hopes you have found this website helpful.

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