Ideally, the green light tells you when the intersection is clear and you have the right of way. As soon as that light switches from red to green, you should be able to drive safely. There is even a delay period where all four lights are red — for only a second — to make sure that cross traffic has stopped before the light turns green.
But driving is often far less than ideal, and you never want to blindly trust that green light. You should still look both ways.
The issue, of course, is that people will run the red light. In one case, a motorcyclist who was wearing a helmet camera clearly had the green light, and he drove forward without turning his head. A small sedan inexplicably ran the red light and slammed into the bike.
Was the motorcyclist at fault? Absolutely not. The video evidence clearly shows that he did nothing wrong and that the other driver caused the crash.
But you don’t only want to think about it in the context of who is at fault. Looking both ways, even with a green light, could help you avoid a crash and the serious injuries that may come with it. It’s just one more step you can take to become a defensive driver, understanding that others are going to make mistakes and going above and beyond to stay out of their way.
You can’t always avoid others’ mistakes, though. If you get injured in a crash that they caused through negligence or recklessness, you have to know what legal steps to take and what rights you have.