The Old Coot knows his colors

By Merlin Lessler — 

Red is the new green! People don’t stop for red lights. They do the opposite; they speed up and run through it, long after yellow has turned red. Those of us waiting at intersections for a green light are forced to look both ways before moving ahead. If we don’t, we’ll get broadsided.

Red-runners act as though they have a ten second grace period. The red light doesn’t mean red until ten seconds after it comes on.  

I’ve also noticed that one or two cars will follow the first car through the light. It reminds me of when I was a kid and we fastened our sleds together by hooking our feet into the sled behind us, to form a train; we came down the hill as a single unit.

That’s how cars now run through red lights, like a train. It’s a good strategy. Safety in numbers. Who’s the cop going to ticket?    

I started a campaign in 2007, one of those foolish old coot things, to see if the DOT would allow drivers to treat red lights as stop signs during off-peak hours. I was tired of sitting at an intersection at 5 a.m. when no cars were on the road, wasting time and gas. I’m allowed to go right on red if no one is coming, why not straight, or left? Drivers do it all the time at stop signs, what’s so different when it’s a light?

I sent a letter to our state senator and received a polite reply. He didn’t let on how crazy he thought my suggestion was. He said he referred it to the DOT. Eventually the answer came on official DOT stationery, about a thousand words long, that was simply a big fat “NO”!

I don’t see why not. I do it all the time as a pedestrian, and it takes me longer to scamper across an intersection than a car. If you wait for permission from a mindless traffic signal it doesn’t guarantee your safety, not when red is the new green.

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