Watch for red light runners

By Frank Lewis

July 1, 2014

By Frank Lewis


I sent this warning out in a column several years ago, but it may be time to give a refresher course in how to drive away when the light turns green. The first time around I suggested waiting three seconds. Now, I am suggesting waiting five seconds. That is because now I am not just seeing one car run a red light at a time, but two to three cars.

A day does not go by that I don’t watch someone blatantly ignore a red light and drive right through it. I’m not talking about a light changing from yellow to red while they are in the intersection. I’m talking about cars that are 20 to 30 yards back when the light turns red.

I have a theory that may or may not be correct. I believe it is all part of our new entitlement society. I believe what is in the brains of these people, that is if they actually engage their brains, is - “I was approaching the intersection and if the car in front of me had been going faster I would have been able to go through it, so I believe I should be able to go through the red light.”

Now, what is interesting about these people is that it is worth it to them to risk your life and the lives of your family members to get that extra half-second jump on the traffic. There is no accounting for their carelessness. So all you can do is drive defensively.

Now, let me tell you. When you wait five seconds, that same type of person who would run the red light if he or she was in front of you, will immediately blow his or her horn. You have to learn just to ignore it and know you may have saved a life by waiting a little longer before you pull out.

One of the things that I see a lot is people who leave late in the morning for their destination, and try to make up the time by tailgating, zig-zagging from one lane to the next to try to gain a foot in their journey. If there is any humor in these people it is that after all of that hard work, when you finally get to an intersection where they can’t run the red light because someone is in front of them, you will be right beside them. They will really not have gained an inch.

I believe we are a very self-serving society concerned only about ourselves, in other words - what is in it for me? Thus, we feel we are not subject to laws. We teach our children that disobeying traffic laws is okay as long as you don’t get caught. So the message we send to our children is there is no right or wrong - only caught or not caught.

Now, let me add one more thing. People who think they can text and drive ought to have to watch themselves from behind. I watch cars swerve across the center lane and back and know when I get next to them at the traffic light, should they actually choose to stop, I will always see them with their device in front of their face.

So since there are people on the road who don’t care about your life or the lives of your children, take a little extra time when you get a green light. Look and wait for a few seconds before going. Remember, you may have the green light, and you may be right - but you may be dead right.

Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.