Monday Rant: Green Means Go!

About 7,000 years ago now the powers that be devised a system of control for our cluttered intersections. Coloured lights were set to signal drivers on their next move. Red for stop, green for go and orange/yellow/amber also for stop (contrary to popular belief).

The red part mostly works, the orange part we still struggle with (and that’s a story to itself), but the green part has become an utter disaster.

It seems that people are more excited by the nose-nugget they’re contemplating eating or the latest “LOL, IDK” message on their phone to register that the light has changed and action is required.

So a quick refresher: When the light goes green, you should immediately drive away from the intersection. When you don’t, the cars behind you don’t get to go through when it’s their turn and frustration builds.  This is a hazard.

This is especially problematic on advanced greens. When the turning arrow goes green, a sensor in the pavement starts measuring how many cars are going through. If the sensor doesn’t pick up movement in the first few seconds, it begins to immediately cancel the advanced green. If there’s a lengthy delay between cars, it does the same, shortening the advance green. This often leads to drivers going through the intersection after the advance green has ended, with often catastrophic results – as this dashcam video shows.

Why does this happen? Lots of reasons. Inattention being one of them. When you’re at a traffic light, it’s not a break from driving. It’s a pause in your forward momentum only. You still need to be alert. If you’re first in line, it’s your responsibility to monitor the other lines of traffic. Our systems here in Canada are pretty predictable, you should know you’re likely to get a green light in the next sequence, and be prepared. That means be in gear and be watchful.

By no means should you blindly stomp on the gas when your light changes, but if you’re paying attention you’ll already know if it’s safe to proceed immediately or not.

And if it is – you should!

That includes people who are second, third or fourth in line. Don’t wait for the driver in front to go all the way through the intersection before you take off, when they go – you go too.

Perhaps you think it’s reasonable to stop and look before you go on an advance green – it is absolutely not. You should have already scanned the intersection as you approach the line, if the light is green and someone else has already gone through, it is reasonable to expect you to also go through quickly and efficiently.

Dilly-dallying ruins other people’s days, frustrates fellow road users, confuses pedestrians and ultimately, causes crashes. Sure, it might not cause you to crash, but your actions affect others. Don’t be that guy.

So put the phone down, stop picking your nose, stop reading the newspaper or whatever else it is. Pay attention, watch the traffic around you, and when the light changes to green – Go!