Traffic School: Don’t run red and yellow lights!!

I live in an area where there are some fun areas to walk to. To get to my favorite rehydrating spot, I have to first cross one sticky intersection. What makes it sticky is this:

This curious light combination is very common in Massachusetts so shouldn’t cause any confusion to drivers who, like me, have been driving around the state for a long time, perhaps even for life. For those of you out of state, this curious light combination has the same meaning as the right column of this picture:

Yes, it’s that simple and they are obvious for everyone in the entire intersection so there shouldn’t be any confusion: pedestrians know to walk and drivers know, or should know, to hang tight until they get the official green.

It’s that hang tight moment that never happens these days, does it? Drivers seem to view the Red/Yellow as they do Yellow and just speed up and turn with zero regard to cars, pedestrians or bikes. I walk almost every day and I can count on the fact that I’ll be playing “dodge the car” when I hit that intersection. Perhaps it will be someone riding a minivan talking on a cellphone, as occurred last Saturday. Or, perhaps a construction worker in a big pickup truck just speeding through the intersection, as occurred last Friday. Or just a women engrossed in conversation, as occurred last week.

Red light running is becoming a serious issue and is on the rise. Most recent Federal Highway Association data estimates  2.3 million “intersection related” accidents with about 7700 deaths and 733,000 “injury crashes”  overall. For red light running, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association estimates  883 deaths and 165,000 crashes a year. For these accidents, it has been determined that the violators are the red light runners, not the victims.

Data like this always makes me view stop signs and traffic signals differently. You?

There is evidence that red light cameras does decrease speed at intersections and accidents. These cameras are starting to pop up coast to coast so stay tuned. You can keep tabs on what’s happening in your community here.  Seems like a reasonable and cost effective modality for all of us to talk to our legislatures about.

In the meantime, since the intersection cameras don’t seem to be wide-reaching yet, we have to rely on each other’s common sense and sound driving skills.  In other words, it’s time for all of us to show down and pay attention to those lights and intersections a bit more.  Unplug your car from your phone as the first step and I bet you’ll find this is easier to accomplish than you realized. And, in the end, all of us will be a heck of a lot safer and those cameras will be a deterrent for someone…but not you!

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