Social Question

SABOTEUR's avatar

Are stop signs and red lights becoming obsolete?

Asked by SABOTEUR (12431points) January 8th, 2013 from iPhone

The frequency of drivers ignoring stop signs and red lights is alarming in Baltimore Maryland (USA). I’m not talking about someone becoming distracted and not seeing these traffic regulators. I’m referring to the regular practice of drivers cruising through stop signs. I’m talking about 4 or 5 cars proceeding through intersections after the light has turned red.

Is this the consequence of the increase in red light/speed cameras? Has this age of technology, which allows people to achieve instant results, created drivers who are unable to observe safe driving rules?

It’s getting to the point now where I find myself tapping the horn and/or turning on my hazard lights (flashers) prior to proceeding through intersections!

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36 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Good driving habits and consideration for other drivers are what has disappeared. Dumbest move I’ve seen recently was an idiot blowing through a four way stop at 45 to 50 MPH. He never even lifted, with cars at the other stop signs. If anyone had gone, there would have been a hell of a mess.

CWOTUS's avatar

I first noticed the phenomenon in 1984 during my first visit to Phoenix, Arizona.

It became clear to me that a red light in that city meant “Only the next five cars may proceed.”

Since then I’ve noticed that a lot of traffic lights have delays built in between the Red – Green switching. That is, the light for crossing traffic will turn red… and… a… few… seconds… later… my light will turn green.

I still don’t start across without looking for more traffic. So many drivers these days, aside from being more than normally narcissistic, drunk, stoned or sleepy, are just plain stupid.

rojo's avatar

I don’t think obsolete is the correct term.

It is, in my opinion, a result of the conceited, self-centered, narcissistic culture many have succumbed to.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@rojo Your response accurately explains the attitude of the driver I had to swerve away from this morning.

After running the stop sign, the driver paused and looked at me like, ” didn’t really expect me to stop, did you?”

Shippy's avatar

Very interesting question, I wonder what percentage of road accidents are caused at intersections with lights? I noticed here we have replaced a few with circles, where everyone waits their turn, not sure how well this is working out either. (I life in a very high traffic density city). I think there are just too many people now, too many cars, life is too fast, and maybe it has nothing to do at all with traffic lights.

rojo's avatar

In our town we have put in our first “roundabout” or traffic circle about two months ago. It eliminated a 3-way stop.

You should see what a clusterf*ck that is.

Everyone assumes they have right-of-way. As far as I know there have been no wrecks yet but not through lack of trying.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Yeah, we have one of those circle things in a district not far from me. I’m thankful I rarely need to use that intersection.

Even with that, though, you kind of anticipate erratic driving behavior. It’s unsettling to me that I’ve lost confidence in other drivers observing stop signs.

Seek's avatar

Does anyone remember a time when people had to take a class before they got their license?

Me neither. It had been eliminated from the local high school before I ever got there, and that was 14 years ago.

So, at least 14 years of people getting drivers’ licenses with nothing but a 5 minute test on making a 3 point turn and driving around the block, and a 15 question multiple choice computer test that you can take 10 times if you fail the first nine.

And we wonder why kids can’t drive. They’re learning the rules of the road from Mario Kart. That’s why.

marinelife's avatar

Red light camera say no.

LuckyGuy's avatar

You would love driving here! People are so polite. They stop and wave to each other at the single 4 way stop sign. “Go ahead my good man.’ “After you, kind sir.” “Well if you insist.”
My out-of- town friends are always astounded.

(I’ll bet half the cars have weapons of some sort on board.)

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

In my resident state of Virginia, the annual legislative session begins on Wednesday. One item on the agenda—should right-turn-on-red be outlawed and eliminated in Virginia?

I vote “hooray!” RTOR supposedly means coming to a full stop, making sure that it’s safe to proceed, and then turning carefully. Instead, many drivers coast through red lights without bothering to stop. People take aggressive right turns into heavy traffic. Although RTOR is optional, not mandatory, drivers behind the lead car start leaning on their horns if someone chooses not to turn.

The biggest concern, however, is the danger to pedestrians. I learned the other day that 30% of traffic fatalities involve pedestrians in crosswalks, and the statistic jumped dramatically when RTOR began. Drivers are so focused on looking left and getting ready to make their big moves, they don’t even notice people walking (legally) in front of their cars.

By the way, I live in NoVA (northern Virginia, right next to DC), not RoVA (rest of Virginia). I drive among highly-educated folks with professional careers and liberal, progressive mindsets. None of that stops irresponsible road behavior.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@LuckyGuy I don’t believe it. You’re making this up.

Seek's avatar

Wow, @PaulSadieMartin And here I am hoping for left turns on red arrow to be made legal. I am so tired of sitting at a red arrow way out in BFE because the light waits until there are three or four cars at the light to change, and we all know that’s exactly where a cop’s hiding in the bushes.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Left turn on red? My eye is already twitching.

El_Cadejo's avatar


SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr and @uberbatman . Believe it or not, left-turn-on-red (onto a one-way street) is, indeed, legal in some areas. But, the law is obscure. I regularly drive in Virginia, Maryland, and DC. I’ve read that left-turn-on-red can be done in one or two of those jurisdictions, but I forget which. I certainly don’t plan to try it—anywhere. The very thought creeps me out!

@Seek_Kolinahr It’s worth mentioning that I’m talking about urban traffic, complete with lots of pedestrians. I suppose that RTOR might be much safer in rural areas with few cars and even fewer pedestrians.

It’s also worth mentioning that my brain’s been oversaturated with traffic safety. This past Sunday, I spent 8–½ hours in a driver education clinic. A few weeks ago, I wasn’t paying attention to the clock (my mother-in-law was in my car with me, talking my ear off). I turned at an intersection that doesn’t allow turns between 4:00 – 6:00 pm. I got pulled over by a policeman and ticketed. Because I’m such a danger and menace to society, I was facing a hefty fine, 4 points off my license, a moving violation on my record, and higher insurance rates. I asked a judge if I could do Idiot Class instead. She agreed; I went to the clinic, and the offense has been removed.

Seek's avatar

In Florida, left turn on red is allowed on one-way streets downtown.

gailcalled's avatar

Like @LuckyGuy, I live in an old-fashioned very rural community. There is one stop-light on a road that runs for 25 miles.

We also stop at the pedestrian crossing marks; one of the interesting issues is that we know or recognize almost everyone. And we drive slowly enough to see who is behind the wheel of the car.

@LuckyGuy is also right about the weapons. Many of the pick-ups have gun racks with those long, thin guns that shoot pellets housed there. Almost every local still hunts.

I love living here.

CWOTUS's avatar

I know exactly what @Seek_Kolinahr is talking about. We have a lot of “left turn arrows” on streets that at one time had no traffic controls at all, then over time built up to “blinking yellow / blinking red”, meaning traffic from the intersecting street had to stop, but through traffic could proceed with caution.

Later that graduated to a red / yellow / green light, and now since the main road has now morphed into a four-lane semi-divided throughway and there’s heavy traffic in both directions at certain times of the day, traffic can only turn off (to the left, anyway, across the oncoming lane) when they have the specific green arrow to permit that.

But that traffic doesn’t flow like that “every” day. Holidays, snow days, late nights, etc. have light traffic or no traffic at all sometimes, but the lights still cycle through the long red light and the short green arrow. And like she says, if there’s a cop hiding in the bushes, it’s those bushes he’s hiding behind, waiting for the unwary, the impatient and quite often the sensible driver who notices, “There’s no damn traffic at all on this road. Why should I wait another full minute for more no-traffic?”

El_Cadejo's avatar

@PaulSadieMartin I didnt doubt it. I’ve seen some before in Maryland on my way to Baltimore, I was just referring to people not paying attention to stop signs.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@SABOTEUR Did you just see @gailcalled ‘s response? Her area is similar to mine. Mine might even be a little more rural than hers. Life here is wonderful! It is so relaxed and safe. People treat each other with respect. 4 way stops are a chance to wave “hi” to your neighbor. And, yes, most everyone has jumper cables, tow chains, and some form of weapon either on their hip or in their vehicle. Here is a picture of a typical gun rack in a pick up truck. That is not unusual.

When I travel to other areas I am shocked at how rude people are. Bleech! I love it here!

SABOTEUR's avatar

Yeah, I saw her response @LuckyGuy. Just hard to believe Mayberry really exists.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@LuckyGuy How come nobody manufactures a gunrack for a Prius? Gee, I wonder why not…

CWOTUS's avatar

Who says they don’t, @PaulSadieMartin? Here is just one of many.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@CWOTUS That’s hilarious!!! Guns and hybrid vehicles?!?! I’m beyond words.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@PaulSadieMartin Even more surprising is the large number of NPR listeners. You might have the image of beer drinking rednecks but that is not a very common sight. Sure, there are some but they are well in the minority and are pitied and looked after like a slightly daft relative. “Cleetus got his truck stuck in the snow bank again today. Bless his heart. Let’s head over there and pull him out.”

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@LuckyGuy Where do you live? The south? The midwest? Northern Maine? Eastern Oregon or Washington?

LuckyGuy's avatar

Western NY, near lake Ontario – 8 hours and a lifetime away from NY City.
It is a totally different world.

People think of New York as all NY city. It’s not. 2 hours out of NY and you are in very rural country. Heck, Steuben County is considered part of Appalachia.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@LuckyGuy For an urban chick such as me, anything north of Westchester County is considered Upstate New York. It’s all just a matter of orientation, I guess.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@PaulSadieMartin I’m about 4 hours East of LuckyGuy in Chenango County. it’s a pretty hilly rural area.

gailcalled's avatar

@PaulSadieMartin: Anything north of Westchester county (where I grew up) is upstate, even though it is really eastern central.

I am lucky in having the rural, pretty, hilly farm country along with a very sophisticated population who support the arts, both in my county of Columba and across the line into Berkshire county in MA.

Half of the second-home population are the arts; they play in the BSO, which summers up here, they act in the plays, they fill the galleries and they publish award-winning novels, poetry, and non-fiction.

jerv's avatar

As bad as Seattle drivers are, you never see more than one run a red light, and there is an unwritten rule about one car per direction at stop signs.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Check out Zoar Valley . It is one of the few places on the planet that still has old growth, primal forest. It is a hidden gem right here in NY.
People are very nice. Everyone waves. I think the nearest stop light is in East Otto, 20 miles away.

wundayatta's avatar

In Philly we have cameras at stop lights to catch those who cruise on through after the light turns. It has put a stop to that kind of thing.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Red light/speed cameras are huge revenue generators for the State of Maryland. Too bad they don’t work properly. The news reported one instance of a driver being cited for speeding…

while sitting still.

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