I know you know how much I love traffic. Specifically, how much I love other drivers. If this is the first you’re hearing about this, well, surprise, I guess. Maybe hit pause and go check out my other traffic posts. They might be relatable, or they might not be and that’s concerning. Because then you may be the person I’m talking about so … this is awkward. And yet here we are. Maneuvering the intricacies of life in an almost successful way.
Mmkay, circling back: traffic. Specifically traffic, what’s the word, hardware? Enhancements? Not sure so let’s just call it what it is. Traffic trash. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the left turn light with only three lights. Just three. Like a normal traffic light. Except it’s not a normal traffic light at all. It’s a left turn light! Where you should have the option to turn if it’s safe, otherwise, you’ll be there indefinitely since we all know that a left turn green is not the same length as a straight green. At least if you take the average across all traffic lights ever. I think.
This is one of the most perplexing things to me, as a driver and overall human being. Specifically where there’s new road construction. It’s one thing to have it there from the before times when the only option was a heathen version of the left turn light. Although, back then it was new technology so it was probably pretty revolutionary at the time. Anyways, as we move forward with the age of tech and have other options, like a four light left turn light for example, why would we not implement those … everywhere?
For the first time ever on TRP, I actually asked a traffic engineer about this. Did some actual research. And their answer was mildly acceptable. Apparently, not every left turn is in a place where it’s safe to let people make their own decisions on if it’s safe or not to turn. On the one hand, ok. Yes, we, as a species, have not necessarily proven our decision making and focusing skills while on the road. On the other hand, though, how easy is our driving test where we aren’t confident that licensed drivers can make an appropriate decision about when it’s safe to turn, and when it isn’t? If there is a car coming, then you must wait. Basic physics and basic laws of traffic.
This is what I heard from that conversation: people can’t be trusted. I don’t know that I agree with that sentiment, though. Trust people until they give you a reason not to is my motto. I think a good solution here is to maybe have the penalty for poor left turn decision making being a suspension of your license. And / or a remedial class on how to use common sense to not turn in front of someone else. Because that would make life better for all. Imagine if at every left turn, it lasted the entire length of the straight arrow, plus the bonus turn only green? Left turns wouldn’t suck nearly as bad.
The amount of times that I’ve sat at a red left turn light while there were absolutely zero cars coming from either direction all because of a few bad apples … oh my goodness. It’s infuriating. Does it make you angry too? I’m not going to encourage breaking the laws of traffic, but I often wonder what would happen if I just decide to go on red anyways. Which, at that point, are we any worse off than just letting people make their own decisions at a flashing yellow? I have to believe no. People at least wouldn’t be thinking about running red lights that way so that, in and of itself, is a positive.
Long story short, I think we need to eliminate the three light left turn option. For everyone’s sanity. For the integrity of our traffic laws. To help reduce driver stress, even if only in that one area. To force people to think about their actions. To add more flashing yellow lights in the world and yellow is the color of happiness and who doesn’t want to be happier? It just makes sense.
Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know someone who would enjoy this post and want to share it with them, that would be awesome. Sharing is caring, after all. Don’t forget to subscribe to get these in your inbox twice weekly and follow TRP on Twitter for frequent musings. Thanks for reading!
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