(15) Every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing a circular amber indication and facing the indication shall stop his or her vehicle if he or she can do so safely, otherwise he or she may proceed with caution. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (15).
(16) Every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing an amber arrow indication only or in combination with another indication and facing the indication shall stop his or her vehicle if he or she can do so safely, otherwise he or she may proceed with caution to follow the direction shown by the amber arrow indication. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (16).
(17) Every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing a flashing circular amber indication and facing the indication may proceed with caution. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (17)
Pretty simple, if its amber, your first priority is to stop safely. 2nd, if you can't stop safely, you must proceed with caution.
So in the simplest of terms, an amber light means STOP. Most people see it only as warning that the light is about to change red so they take the chance that they can make it through. We have seen so many collisions because of that mentality. Drivers waiting to turn figuring they have to clear the intersection and the drivers coming towards them assume that they will make it on the amber. The driver making the turn can't move until they are sure that the turn can be made safely. I have investigated many collisions like this and the turning driver believes that they had the right of way because they had to get out of the intersection. (Another blog post at another time).
But, here is something hardly anyone knows. Failing to stop for an amber light, used to carry the same penalties as red light offences. Cost to you for a failing to stop for amber? $180 + 3 demerit points. ( Just recently red light offences monetary penalty increased.)
Specific Situation - Turns
Technically, you can not enter an intersection unless you can clear that intersection in one motion without impeding other traffic (which includes pedestrians and cyclists).
We all know that when you are turning left, you enter the intersection, wait for oncoming traffic to clear and then turn...after looking to make sure your path is clear (which includes pedestrians and cyclists).
What happens when the light turns amber? Well, since you are in the intersection you have to clear it. So once it is safe to do so, you clear. But, what we often see is four or five more cars that were waiting use the amber time to turn, which usually also means the red light time. This is dangerous and leads to reduced traffic flow as the cross traffic has to wait for you to clear.
If you are stopped behind the stop line, you CAN NOT PROCEED on an amber. Offence? Yes, Amber light, fail to stop or what normally happens...Red Light, proceed before green because the light has changed. (On a side note...I used to camp out and lay those charges at many intersections downtown. Ever drive from SB University to EB Adelaide?)
So here is the big conclusion:
Amber Light = Stop if safe to do so
Red Light = Stop
Green Light = Proceed with caution, if safe to do so
Whats your thought on this? Is there anymore clarification required? Tell me if you have been in any of those situations.