Thursday, December 17, 2009

Traffic signal alert


In April a driver in Oswego, Ill. ran a red light that he couldn't see because snow had blown and stuck against the red lens of the traffic signal.

An Oswego police detective reportedly said that the snow over the red light "caused" a driver to run the red light and hit a vehicle turning left, killing the other driver. (The photo to the right illustrates the problem. It does not necessarily portray the light at the time of the crash.)

Well, I disagree. The obscured traffic light did not "cause" the driver to run the red light. If that driver couldn't see a green light (or any light on the traffic signal), then he needed to treat it as a four-way stop and come to a complete stop before entering the intersection.

The energy-efficient LED lights in use in many traffic signals do not generate sufficient (any?) heat to melt snow. I wonder if the traffic-light folks or the engineers at IDOT considered that, when they chose the LED light. Think so? When somebody sues the traffic light manufacturer, a city or IDOT and collects $10-20 million, was there a savings with LED lights?

Don't count on the oncoming vehicle to yield, when you turn left in front of it. It's too easy to assume, just because you see your light changing, that the oncoming driver will see you, slow and stop so that you can turn in front of him.

How many people pull into an intersection on the green and wait to complete their left turn?

After following a Woodstock police officer one day in a left-turn lane and watching him stop at the stop bar on the green light to wait for oncoming traffic to clear, I re-thought my own driving habit of pulling into the intersection to wait.

While it's not illegal to pull into the intersection on the green light if there is heavy oncoming traffic, is it smart? Not at all. So what, if it costs me 60 seconds to wait through a traffic-light cycle. That's a small price to pay, if I avoid an accident and all the delay, time and money that would cost.

So this winter, watch for those snow-filled traffic light covers. If you can't see the light, think. How do you know the light is not red?

Permission to use the above photo has been requested from the Associated Press (AP).

5 comments:

The Madd Bulldog said...

Ok, I hope ur sitting down and strapped in because I got something to say................
I agree with you. DOH!

With the population being that it is, and more and more "unqualified" drivers out there with minimal common-sense (if any), you not only have to watch out for what YOU are doing behind the wheel, but also the other duffusses out there on cellphones, painting their fingernails, reading their GPS's, eat'n, drink'n beer.... oops... scratch that last one! DOH!

hedgehog said...

I have been told (on good authority) that one ought not enter an intersection unless the exit is clear. Therefore, the practice of entering the intersection and waiting for a break in trafic for a left turn is a violation. It is certainly accepted practice however.

Gus said...

hedgehog, I think that "good authority" is giving good advice, but I don't think it is illegal to enter the intersection on a green light, even if an exit is not clear. If you can help with a statute that makes it illegal, I'm sure many will appreciate knowing it.

Gus said...

I do think a driver could be ticketed for blocking an intersection, if he got caught in it because traffic on the intersecting street/road prevented his clearing the intersection.

Notawannabee said...

I have to agree with the BullDog...I also agree...but don't let it go to your head GUS!!

This go green BS is over the top. Hey there Al ( save the Polar Bears) Gore...you can't fix STUPID!