Puzzled driver crashes; sends two to hospital

See what happened when a driver turned into traffic thinking he was protected by one of those new flashing yellow turn signals …

While a driver tries to explain why he thought he had the right-of-way at a signal-controlled intersection, a victim from one of the cars is rolled away on a gurney, soon to be taken to the hospital.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Two cars were severely damaged, and one passenger from each vehicle was taken to local hospitals, as a result of a crash at about 11:15 a.m. on May 10, at the intersection of NE 82nd Avenue at NE Tillamook Street.

As a Portland Police Bureau officer listened, one man was interpreting for another, saying that he saw a “turn arrow” light up, and started his left-hand turn from northbound NE 82nd Avenue to westbound NE Tillamook Street.

Witnesses said this Honda spun 180° after it turned left, into oncoming traffic, because the driver thought he had the right-of-way.

“What color was the arrow?” the office inquired.

“It was lit up,” was the reply.

“What color was it lit up?” the officer prodded.

“It was a light color.”

“Was that color green, or yellow, or red?” asked the officer.

After several minutes of conferring, the officer learned the left-hand turn signal “wasn’t green”.

The driver of this Nissan had no chance of avoiding the accident, witnesses say.

Witness William Anders agreed. “The older red Nissan was headed south on NE 82nd Avenue, and had a green light at the intersection. The Honda quickly turned left at NE Tillamook Street, right in front of it. There was no way to avoid a collision.”

Having a traffic signal show a flashing yellow left-hand turn indication is relatively new at this intersection, Anders added. “I think it’s kind of confusing for anyone. It should be red or green – not yellow.”

An accident victim who was riding in the red Nissan is prepared for ambulance transport to a local hospital.

So, remember – exercise extreme caution when making a left-hand turn on a flashing yellow turn signal! The oncoming traffic is traveling on a green light, and they have no way of knowing you are given a flashing yellow – which means “turn only when it is safe to do so.”

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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