Ask The Traffic School Instructor: Using A Parking Lot To Avoid Traffic Signals
August 26, 2014
Question: If you’re at a red light and need to turn, is it illegal to avoid the light by cutting through a parking lot?
Answer: It’s very tempting – you need to turn right but you’re two or three cars behind the light and the drivers ahead are going straight. It would be so easy to just cut through the parking lot and exit onto your street but imagine if a whole line of cars were doing that every time the light was red.
It is against the law to cut through a parking lot to avoid a traffic signal. In Florida, this law is covered under Florida Statute 316.074 – Obedience to and required traffic control devices. If a law enforcement officer were to observe you doing this, you could receive a moving violation ticket. Almost all states have a similar law.
The only time it would be permissible was if you were directed to do so by a law enforcement officer. A situation where this could happen was if there were a traffic crash in the intersection and traffic was backed up. At that point, an officer might direct traffic through the parking lot to clear the traffic and keep it moving. However, before doing this, the officer would first have to decide whether or not the extra traffic might pose a danger to pedestrians or other traffic in the parking lot before allowing traffic to cut through. Situations like that would be very rare.
When you’re sitting at a red light, your sense of time can become distorted and every second spent waiting seems like five. If you were to actually time the length of a red light, you would probably find that the actual time spent was much shorter than it seemed. It’s better to just wait it out and avoid getting a ticket rather than avoiding the light.