Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Red Light, Green Light

One summer I remember we played the children's game red light/ green light at my cousin's house. We would line up one side of the front lawn and then pick someone to be the stoplight. That person would then shout "Green light!" and the object was to keep getting as close as possible to the "stoplight" until you reached it, without getting caught moving, because the person playing the light could at any time yell "Red light!" at which point you had to freeze. But if you couldn't stop in time before they turned around after shouting "Red light!", you were out of the game. You had to make sure you didn't start off too fast on the green lights such that you couldn't stop in time when they turned around to try and catch you moving (and if they did see you move, you were out).

But that was only a game. Make a mistake at a real stoplight and you could be "out" permanently. My dad has always advised me to pause when a light turns green and not rush out into the intersection, advice I haven't always followed. I'm in as much a rush as anyone when driving around town, and we all seem to hate stoplights (can't we find a way to abolish the damn things?) and do anything to avoid stopping at one (thus the "yellow means put the pedal to the metal" syndrome) or, once stopped, having to wait for even a split second longer than necessary (which is why the horns start blaring behind you if you fail to instantly move once the light changes-"Ignore those jerks!" Dad always says).

Last night I decided I would make a quick trip to the supermarket, so I got in my car and headed out into the semi-darkness. Around the block from the house there is a stoplight and I have to make a left turn to go in the direction of the store. As I approached the light it was red, and remained so until I came to a complete stop. It quickly turned green, however, but instead of venturing into the intersection after a couple of seconds (and I usually pause at least that long) I hesitated. I don't know why, but my mind was momentarily distracted, and I waited for a few seconds longer (and there were no cars behind me) and then, just as I was about to proceed a small sedan came racing through from my left. It had run the red light at high speed. Why? Why do people do that? Is it worth saving a few seconds? Keep in mind this wasn't one of those people that saw a yellow and simply hoped to beat the red. Several good seconds went by before that car ran the light. They had absolutely no way of knowing if someone would cross in front of them or not.

I came that close to possibly being killed by someone with no concern for others or even their own life. So please, wait for a few seconds before moving when you see that green light, and if you are a complete, reckless maniac, reform yourself or get off the roads!


  1. This is a perfect example of justified government intervention. There can be no more dangerous activity to yourself and others than running a red light. We all agree.

    Therefore, there should be extremely stiff fines for doing so. Cameras at intersections to catch the evildoers are justified. Taking steps to hide or block you tag number from the camera should be illegal with stiff fines attached to those who are caught.

    But then, that would be liberal, big government intrusion into our private lives wouldn't it?

    Glad you made it home safely.

  2. Where I live to get to work I have to take a highway. Getting on the highway at a stop light. I can see someone coming and I always hesitate especially if a semi is coming. I have seen so many semis run that stop light it is ridiculous. That is near insta death for a car passenger and the semi driver would probably not even be scratched.

  3. Maybe government roads are the problem? After all, we routinely hold private companies responsible for their shoddy, life-threatening products


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