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There is a weird traffic situation in Berlin, Germany (here), which consists of a crossing with only one traffic light like this:

a weird crossing

The traffic signs indicate that AC is the main road, so traffic coming from B or D has to wait until it's clear. Pedestrians can activate the traffic light, which stops traffic from A and C.

Imaging following situation:

  • y wants to go from A to C, but has to wait before the crossing because the light is red.
  • x wants to go from D to C.

How should x behave?

Go: At a normal crossing when A<->C has red light, B<->D would have green light, so x could go. (It would have to wait on the crossing for B->D-traffic or pedestrians to pass and then go.) But x has no way of knowing that A<->C has red light.

or

Wait: As there is no traffic light for B<->D, x has to abide by the traffic signs. The signs say: wait for y to pass and then go. But this would mean, there is a lot of pointless waiting.

What would be the right option according to the law?

Thanks for your help.

2 Answers 2

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  • The nuisance of potentially waiting for all the traffic on the main road is a notion alien to the law.
  • Seeing the red light, y correctly does not enter the intersection, because it would block the intersection, § 11 Ⅰ StVO. Keeping intersections clear is a general consideration, say for emergency services. Nevertheless, if safely stopping required entering the intersection, it’s not an issue here, § 4 Ⅰ 2 StVO.
  • Stopping before entering the intersection is not a hard requirement, because the traffic lights do not regulate the intersection but an “isolated” pedestrian crossing. § 37 Ⅱ StVO concerns traffic lights at intersections.
  • x has to yield traffic as indicated by the sign, § 8 Ⅰ StVO.
    • Making a U‑turn or right-hand turn would be no issue, since this would not interfere with traffic (assuming properly dimensioned streets).
    • Going straight is permissible if done with caution, § 8 Ⅱ StVO, but I would not recommend that. y might decide any moment “Eff it! I’m taking B street [Am Falkplatz].” and boom!
    • Going left, however, is not allowed, since x had to stop short of the traffic light, which is frowned upon (blocking the intersection), but moreover it would take y’s right of way.
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How should x behave? Answer: Carefully.

First, since he has a "give way" sign, he has to either wait for y, or drive very, very carefully if he sees that y is not moving. And if he drives into the crossing, he will see that there is both a pedestrian crossing and a traffic light, and has to wait because of the traffic light.

But there isn't a lo of pointless waiting. This setup would only happen if the traffic light is expected to stop traffic only rarely.

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  • So you're saying: wait, to play it safe, but you could get away with going, if you're careful. By "pointless waiting" I meant: Red light might cause the whole crossing to wait (except for pedestrians). "[x] has to wait because of the traffic light."? In my understanding, x, as a left turner, has to only wait for the pedestrians and does have to wait for the light.
    – vincirist
    May 11, 2022 at 15:32
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    under german law, X simply may not cross the path of Y as he has to yield to Y. They may go right or U-turn, but not go straight (which violates the need to yield) or turn left (which does not break the yield requirement but they would need to stop in the intersection, also not allowed)
    – Trish
    May 11, 2022 at 21:08

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