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Thread: "You lost the right of way."

  1. #1
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    "You lost the right of way."

    This has been bugging me since the video was released. As you may have heard, this summer Venus Williams was involved in an automobile crash in which someone in the other vehicle was killed. The police initially put it down as Williams' fault and the deceased man's family sued. After the suit was filed video came out which showed Williams entered the intersection on a green light but got trapped in the intersection when someone cut her off.

    A while later audio from the police body cam was released. In the audio the officer is heard telljng Williams the accident is her fault because she "lost the right of way."

    “You had a green light, so you had the right of way when you started to exit but because you got stuck in the middle of the intersection, you lost that right of way,” Dowling told Williams, who was dressed in a white tennis shirt and skirt and blue baseball cap. Linda Barson, he said, now had a green light “and had no way of knowing that you were going to come across.”

    Williams asked Dowling, “In a situation like that, what do you do? Because you can't back up.”

    “Exactly,” Dowling replies. “You just got stuck in a bad situation there. I would just let the insurance companies work it out. I am not giving you a citation.”
    https://www.google.com/amp/www.latim...story,amp.html

    I have never heard of losing the right of way before. I think the cop was full of it. What do you all think?
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  2. #2
    Turtle killer STLouisMom9800's Avatar
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    I got a ticket for blocking an intersection when something similar happened to me. I had a green light and traffic was moving along fine. Next thing I know the cargo van in front of me stopped suddenly. Since it was a cargo van I couldn't see the traffic in front of it, it was too tall. The light stayed green for a good minute or so but no one was moving at all. Next thing I know the light was red and I was stuck. I wasn't in the middle of the intersection, just my back end was sticking out a little bit. I could see the traffic light literally above my head and I could see cars moving through the intersection behind me so I don't think I was blocking it. Next thing I know, we finally start moving and I see a cop behind me with his lights on. I seriously had no idea why he was pulling me over. According to him, you are not to enter the intersection unless you are sure you can make it all the way through, even if the light is green and the cars ahead of you are moving normally.

    That said, I don't understand why the people in the other car kept going when her car was in the way. It doesn't matter if you have a green light, you can't just keep going when it's clear your path is obstructed. In my case, if I really was breaking a law and totally blocking the intersection, other drivers could be annoyed with me, could honk at me, could flip me off and curse me out but they couldn't just run into me.

  3. #3
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    If you watch the video, she was barely stopped for a second. IMO the other car should have checked the intersection before entering it when their light turned green. I was taught to check, and I teach my kids to check.
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  4. #4
    Full Sponsor TapToTalk's Avatar
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    Technically, I believe, you aren't supposed to be in an intersection until you are certain you can clear it. Like those people who enter an intersection with heavy traffic, aren't across, the light changes and they block the intersection. Lots of cities have big fines for that.

    Williams seems to have been cut-off totally unexpectedly. But, in an accident, there is always some "at fault" designation. So, this seems to be just a very unfortunate situation. Agree with those who don't understand why the other driver entered even though they had the right of way.

  5. #5
    Nihongo dame desu villanelle's Avatar
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    Right. I've always heard this called a grid lock law. You aren't supposed to enter the intersection unless you can fully clear it. If you get stuck in the middle, even if you entered on the green, you are in violation of traffic laws. Depending on how the "cut off" went down, that may or may not be entirely relevant here, because I believe you are generally forbidden from changing lanes while in an intersection. If it was clear for her to get through and the only reason she didn't was that someone illegally cut her off, I'd think she wouldn't have been in violation of the grid lock law, but I don't know the nuances of the law, or what happened that day.

  6. #6
    Non-praying member Mamapalooza's Avatar
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    I see this daily on my commute home along a one-way street where cars enter the intersections on a green when the traffic ahead has not left a car length for them to safely move into. The light changes and now they're in the middle of an intersection blocking cross traffic and impeding pedestrians because they have nowhere to go. It sounds like she did in fact have the space to finish crossing the interesection but was cut off.

    The other driver was in the wrong for entering the intersection on a green before it was safe to do so. Just because you have the right of way doesn't mean you can take it.
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  7. #7
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    Here is video from a nearby surveillance camera. It looks to me as if the intersection was clear, Venus entered, another car cut her off causing her to have to pause in the middle of the intersection, and as she continued through the intersection a car hit hers. If I were assigning fault, I'd assign it to the driver who cut Williams off and the driver who hit her. She doesn't look at fault to me.

    https://youtu.be/NvvJORxr95Q
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  8. #8
    Full Sponsor GiftOfFlavor's Avatar
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    When I lived on the east coast they called it "blocking the box" and you'd get a big fat ticket.. ask me how I know lol

    That video makes it not look like her fault at all. I'd blame the person that cut her off and the other driver who hit her car.

  9. #9
    HI! Wise Old Goat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mamapalooza View Post
    I see this daily on my commute home along a one-way street where cars enter the intersections on a green when the traffic ahead has not left a car length for them to safely move into. The light changes and now they're in the middle of an intersection blocking cross traffic and impeding pedestrians because they have nowhere to go. It sounds like she did in fact have the space to finish crossing the interesection but was cut off.

    The other driver was in the wrong for entering the intersection on a green before it was safe to do so. Just because you have the right of way doesn't mean you can take it.
    This - this wasn't some rush hour asshole entering an intersection they knew they couldn't clear because they're time is more valuable than any one else's. IMO the other driver was at fault - just because the light turned green doesn't mean they shouldn't have made sure the intersection was clear - and how did they not see her? I think if her name had been Betty Smith there would have been no lawsuit.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Old Goat View Post
    This - this wasn't some rush hour asshole entering an intersection they knew they couldn't clear because they're time is more valuable than any one else's. IMO the other driver was at fault - just because the light turned green doesn't mean they shouldn't have made sure the intersection was clear - and how did they not see her? I think if her name had been Betty Smith there would have been no lawsuit.
    The lawsuit did have Money Grab written all over it, and I believe it was withdrawn as soon as the video was released.
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