Did you know that failing to stop at a yellow light is an offence under the Motor Vehicle Act?


2021-03-01 08:58 PST

There are some common traffic questions police get asked on a regular basis. In an effort to educate motorists on the rules of the road, Burnaby RCMP Traffic Section will be providing traffic tips for the most common questions they receive.

Did you know that failing to stop for a yellow light is an offence under the Motor Vehicle Act?

Most motorists believe a yellow light is only a caution light, meaning to proceed if safe to do so. This is not the case and because of this misunderstanding, motorists often inadvertently put themselves into a hazardous situation. A yellow light means that the signal is about to turn red and drivers must stop before entering the intersection unless they cannot safely stop in time.

At what point is stopping for a yellow light no longer safe?

The most obvious answer is, if the light turns yellow as you are about to enter the intersection it would not be safe to stop.

The stop would be unsafe if it would result in you:

Turning Left on a yellow light

If you are a driver waiting to turn left and a vehicle is already in the intersection waiting to turn left ahead of you, you do not get to turn left on the yellow light. When the light turns yellow the car in the intersection may make their turn when it is safe to do so but you may not.

Too often, we see one or two vehicles make a left turn on the yellow light after a vehicle that was waiting in the intersection turns left. As these subsequent vehicles were already safely stopped behind the white line, they should not make the turn.

Determining if someone committed an offence by not stopping for a yellow light will largely be up to the discretion and opinion of the observing officer. If a driver is involved in court proceedings due to their decision to go through a yellow light, the onus is on them to prove it was not safe to stop.


As a driver, there are important steps that can be taken to mitigate the chances of illegally running a yellow light:

Drivers that do their due diligence when approaching an intersection will be able to stop safely.

More Info

In 2020, 894 drivers were observed failing to obey traffic lights at an intersection by the Burnaby RCMP. ICBC data from 2018 indicates that the lower mainland had 83,000 crashes occur at intersections and three of the top 10 crash intersections were in Burnaby.

Failing to stop for a yellow light is an offence under section 128(1)(a) of the Motor Vehicle Act. It is a $167 fine and carries 2 demerit points.

Taking the extra time to stop for a yellow light will help make the roadways a safer place and reduce crashes at intersections.

Released by

Cpl. Michael Kalanj

Media Relations Officer
Burnaby RCMP
burnaby.rcmp-grc.gc.ca (English only)
6355 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby, BC, V5G 2J2
Office: 604-646-9566
Fax: 604-646-9704

Email: burnaby_rcmp_media@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

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