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So in approaching an intersection, a driver must use reasonable care to guard against the possibility that a green traffic light may turn yellow and then red, thus putting an end to his right to proceed and giving that right to vehicles approaching upon the intersecting street. He has no right, as a matter of law, when he sees a green light ahead, to approach the intersection and, without reducing his speed, proceed through it in an attempt to "beat" the light; but it is his duty to drive at such a speed and to have his car under such control as a reasonably prudent person would in view of the possibility that the traffic light may change. If he is approaching at a moderate rate of sped careful operation of his car might not require any abatement of speed. If at a higher rate failure to slacken his speed as he approached the intersection might be the clearest kind of negligence.
Pike street and Twelfth avenue intersected. Pike street ran approximately east and west and Twelfth avenue approximately north and south. At the intersection, the streets were each fifty-two feet wide between curbs. The light at the intersection had a total cycle of fifty seconds. The green light would be on for twenty-eight seconds for the north- and south-bound traffic on Twelfth avenue; then therewould be an interval of three seconds when the light would be red all around. This was followed by sixteen seconds of a green light for the east- and west-bound traffic on Pike street, and then three seconds of red light all around. On January 16, 1942, at about the hour of 6:45 in the evening, Carl Lubliner was walking east along the sidewalk on the south side of Pike street. As he was crossing Twelfth avenue, he was struck by an automobile being driven by Edward Ruge in a southerly direction on the west side of Twelfth avenue. Lubliner based his action, so far as his appeal is concerned, upon the alleged negligence of Ruge in driving the automobile into the intersection at an unlawful rate of speed and against the red light. There are other acts of negligence alleged but the assignments of error do not involve them. The defense is based upon the alleged contributory negligence of Lubliner, in that he entered the intersection against the red light and otherwise failed to exercise reasonable care for his own safety. Lubliner assigned as error that the court refused to permit him to refer in his opening statement to the jury and to prove that Ruge had been drinking intoxicating liquor prior to the happening of the accident. Ruge contended that the proof of such fact was not admissible because it was not pleaded in the complaint, and Lubliner met this by asserting that the condition of Ruge arising out of the consumption of an intoxicant was evidentiary, and it was not necessary to plead it.
Did the trial court err with its instruction regarding the parties' respective duties on entering the intersection?
The court found that the trial court properly ruled on the question of Ruge’s drunkenness because Lubliner’s pleadings should have alleged that Ruge’s alcoholic beverage consumption contributed to the accident. The trial court erred with its instruction regarding the parties' respective duties on entering the intersection because it placed too great a burden on Lubliner and not enough on Ruge. The trial court also erred in charging the jury on the doctrine of acts in emergency because there was no evidence before the trial court that Lubliner knew of the auto approaching him.