Driving 560 in a 660 zone

One Sunday morning I went for an early walk through the land of bad traffic signals. I reluctantly pressed the button to request the computer’s permission to cross Trapelo Road, was granted permission, started walking, and a car passed about 10 feet behind me even though the photon energy was totally in my favor.

We’re taught that when the wavelength of light emitted by a traffic signal is strongest around 660 nm cars should stop, and when it’s around 560 nm cars should go.

There’s a reason for that rule, but much of the time it’s a dumb law. I had already passed that driver’s lane, there was no reason he needed to stop, and he didn’t stop.

On the way back I had to press two buttons, since one was a decoy. Again I was granted permission to cross, and again a car ran the red light.

Others might have asked, “where’s a police officer when you need one?” About a quarter mile away. He passed a minute before, drove to the town line, turned around, and passed again a minute after.

I didn’t wish he had seen the violations. I’m glad to see bad rules getting the respect they deserve.

Remember, false alarms are no alarms. Those red lights were false alarms.

They used to say “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” There might have been better solutions, but you would be blamed if anything went wrong.

Fill a town with signs and signals nobody respects and it’s comfortable business as usual. They aren’t better than the alternative, but they shift the blame.

Going forward we have “HAWK signals” that will reduce the nuisance level for drivers. Instead of stopping unnecessarily and waiting long after the pedestrian has passed, drivers will be able to stop unnecessarily and go. Which is still a nuisance, but less of one.

Those will take many years to install.

Want to bring them on faster? Find a way to make towns financially liable for a share of the accidents they cause by teaching people to disrespect traffic control devices.

The opinions expressed in this post belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.

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