Ask the Attorney: Avoiding Common Traffic Accident Scenarios


Michael E. Rubinstein, ESQ

We Angelenos are known for the amount of time we spend in our cars. Unfortunately, many of us end up in auto accidents during our hours on the road. You can avoid two common accident types by taking a few safety measures when behind the wheel.

Sideswipe Accidents

In the past couple of weeks, my office has received a substantial number of phone calls from drivers involved in sideswipe, or “T-bone” accidents.

A T-bone accident is when one car traveling straight collides with another car traveling from left to right, or right to left. The collision usually results in a twisted heap of metal that resembles the shape of a “T.”

Many Los Angeles neighborhoods are seeing more and more of these types of devastating accidents. My theory is that they proliferate because many of our quaint, residential Los Angeles streets border busy east-west thoroughfares. These include Third Street, Sixth Street, and Beverly Boulevard in Hancock Park, as well as Olympic, Wilshire, and Pico on the West Side.

Often, drivers exiting residential streets try cutting across these large roadway arteries to continue along the quieter residential streets. Many of these residential streets do not have stoplights controlling the intersections, but instead are controlled by stop signs. The absence of a stoplight forces drivers to aggressively assert themselves by cutting across these busy arteries, one lane at a time.

For example, a driver heading north or south on Detroit Street will attempt to cut across Beverly Boulevard. What often happens is that some drivers on Beverly will yield to this driver, who may see one lane of traffic on Beverly yielding, assuming the adjacent lanes will, too.

But it doesn’t always happen. Too many times, this driver will either T-bone a passing car on Beverly, or will get T-boned instead.

In this example, the driver on Detroit Street who had the stop sign would be at fault for the resulting T-bone collision. A driver entering an intersection faced with a stop sign must always yield to cars that are already traveling on the roadway. The drivers on Beverly do not have a stop sign, while the driver on Detroit Street does.

Hancock Park drivers should think twice before trying to cut across Beverly Boulevard or Third Street at intersections that do not have stoplights. You may be in a rush to drop off or retrieve your child from yeshiva, but make sure you can get there safely.

Cutting Across the Yellow Lines to Turn Left

How often have you seen a driver cut to the left of the double yellow lanes to get around traffic?

Usually the offending driver will do this dangerous maneuver to cut around traffic in order to reach the left-turning lane. Most of the time, this maneuver will require this driver to drive, briefly, on the wrong side of the road.

The Vehicle Code prohibits driving to the left of the double yellow lines, except in limited circumstances. These include making a left turn into a driveway; making a U-turn where it’s permitted; moving out of the way of an emergency vehicle; or to pass a slower moving vehicle when the inside yellow line is broken (and not solid).

We’ve all cut across those yellow lines to get around stopped traffic, or have at least been tempted to do so. It can be agonizing knowing that you’re so close to the intersection and ready to turn left, but there are five cars stopped ahead of you blocking your path.

Cutting across the double yellow lines is illegal and incredibly dangerous. What happens if you don’t see an oncoming car, and you begin to cut across the lines? You could be involved in a head-on collision. Stay safe and don’t chance it!

Michael Rubinstein is a Los Angeles based personal injury and accident attorney. He can be reached at 213-293-6075 and at