Can I get fined for driving through an amber traffic light?

Amber traffic lights
Amber yellow

You see the traffic-light turn amber, and the internal deliberation of whether to keep driving or to slow down to a halt pops up into your mind, it’s a common thought that we have all encountered from time to time.

So how do you know when to slow down or when to keep driving?

Drivers must slow down when the traffic signal turns amber, and as a general rule of thumb you must stop before the stop line, unless you are too close to do so safely.

Pressing the brakes too quickly may mean that the car behind you cannot react in time, which could result in situations such as rear-end crashes. Therefore, if you are too close to the stop line when the lights change to amber, ensure that you continue at the same speed and be cautious of traffic when passing through the intersection.

The amber traffic-light time settings must allow sufficient time for vehicles to stop at the stop line. As such, the time setting is governed by the speed limit and in some cases, by the grade of the approach to the stop line. Typical time settings for relatively flat grades are as follows.

Typical time settings for yellow interval: 

Design speed

(km/h)

Time setting

(seconds)

40

4.0

50

4.0

60

4.0

70

4.5

80

5.0

90

5.5

The least amount of time that the yellow time setting can be on is 3 seconds, if you are intrigued on finding out more about the operation of traffic signals, you can discover more information in the Traffic Signal Document from NSW Roads and Maritime Services. 

What are the road rules, offences and fines for running amber lights?

Based on Rule 57 of the Road Rules 2014, at yellow lights you must stop at traffic lights, stop lines and intersections if it is safe to do so. Failure to stop will incur a $439 fine and 3 demerit points and $549 and 4 demerit points if within a school zone. Going through a traffic light once it has turned amber drastically increases your chances of being caught going through a red-light, thanks to red-light cameras, the consequence of which is an immediate $439 fine and 3 demerit points. If you choose to speed above the speed limit to avoid being caught by the red-light camera, an inbuilt red-light speed camera can catch you speeding at any time, no matter whether the lights are red, amber or green.

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