Archive for March, 2008

Traffic Light Outtage and You

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

When a traffic light goes on the blink it’s a great illustration of how the average driver on the road today has no idea about the rules of the road. It just goes to show how poor our licensing programs truly are.

When you approach a traffic light that is blinking red at you, you treat it like a stop sign. When you approach a blinking yellow light you proceed with caution. You do NOT treat a flashing yellow light as a stop sign! If you approach a traffic light that is completely out with no lights at all, you treat it as a stop sign (likely a 4-way stop).

Generally, when a traffic light goes on the blink at an intersection, the primary route (most traffic flow) will flash yellow and the secondary route will flash red. When people treat the yellow flashing as a stop they mess up the natural flow and create gridlock. But it also creates a dangerous situation, too. When a person stops at a yellow and lets a car at the red go, the cars behind that car assume everybody has a red flashing light. So when the next car approaching the yellow proceeds through, the red side now thinks they’ll stop and creates a potential for collision.

Living in the worst traffic city in the US, I can tell you that when people don’t obey the laws during these times, it just creates total gridlock and chaos.

One thing that I’ve often wondered in these situations is why, if there’s enough power to flash the lights, can’t they just reset and function normally? Heck, even all of my home computers have power backup and continue to function normally, and there aren’t any lives at stake there.