Hi there, I just got my first ever traffic ticket, and I'd like some advice on whether or not it's something I can fight.
Here are the notes I wrote down about what happened:
At approximately 9pm tonight I was heading westbound on Harbord in a car2go at approximately the speed limit (40km/h), which I felt was appropriate given the conditions and traffic.
As I approached the intersection of Harbord and College, there was a bike riding in the bike lane on the right hand side near where the bike lane ends. I estimate she was about 35 meters back from the intersection.
She was riding almost on top of the line separating the bike lane, so I needed to move to the far left of the lane to give her space. I saw some oncoming traffic through the intersection, so as I moved to pass her, I accelerated slightly so I could around the cyclist and get back into the center of the lane as quickly as possible, leaving room between me and the oncoming traffic, so they wouldn’t be stuck between my car and the parked cars on the other side of the street.
As I started to pass the cyclist I remember looking at the countdown on the pedestrian crosswalk and seeing three seconds left and thinking that I had sufficient time to make it through the intersection before the light would change.
As I drew even with the cyclist, I was looking out the passenger window to make sure I was giving her enough clearance. And then in the passenger side mirror as I pulled back in front of her to make sure I wasn't cutting her off.
When I looked forward again, I saw the light turn yellow. At the time, I looked at the distance between my car and the intersection, and I hesitated slightly when making the decision about the point of no return. I was worried that I was too close to the intersection and that if I was to stop quickly I probably wouldn’t be able to stop before entering the intersection, or that I would have to really slam on the brakes to stop in time. I felt that it was safer to continue through the intersection. In my drivers training I was taught that it’s safest not to make any kind of changes when proceeding through an intersection (no lane changes, no changes of speed etc.) so having made the decision to continue I maintained my current speed as I passed through the intersection.
I’m a relatively new driver, so it’s possible that another driver may have made a different decision in the same circumstances, or that I would have been able to stop if I had applied the brakes on full at the moment I saw the yellow light, but I hesitated and at the time of this incident I used my best judgement and felt that I was pursuing the safest course of action. I entered the intersection when the light was yellow, and I proceeded with caution -- avoiding any changes in speed or steering inputs until I had cleared the intersection.
The bike lane ends about 40m from the intersection -- at 40km that would take about 3.6 seconds to cover. It takes about 2 seconds to overtake a bicycle, so by the time I got around the cyclist I was probably about 18m from the intersection when I looked up and saw the yellow light.
Once clear of the intersection, I reduced my speed and continued down harbord to clinton, where I slowed to let some other bikes pass and made a right turn. After I made the right turn, the officer behind me turned on his lights and I pulled to the side of the road and turned off the car.
When he approached, the officer told me that I had entered the intersection on a yellow light, and that he felt the light was quite stale when I entered the intersection. He also told me that he felt I was driving too fast, and indicated that he wanted to “talk to me about it.” I said “ok” and at that time he asked for my license and registration. I handed it over, expecting him to check my information and to return to discuss what happened and to allow me to explain why I had continued through the yellow rather than stopping.
When he came back, though he handed me the ticket for failing to stop at an amber light, and when I tried to explain what had happened he told me that he wasn’t going to argue it. I took the ticket and the officer told me I was free to go.
Any help is appreciated. I only got my license last year as a 32 year old, and I'm really hoping I can explain what happened and not get the demerit points. I honestly think I was acting responsibly, and I made what I thought was the safest decision at the time, so hopefully that counts for something.