RED LIGHTS AND STOP SIGNS: WHO CARES?
HERRICKREPORT.COM and Kent M. Herrick
A collection of letters from one who has seen enough accidents to fill a few life times.
STOP SIGNS AND RED LIGHTS to the Kerrville Daily Times.
Who hasn't learned that from nearly birth that red lights mean stop. Stop signs mean stop. I have driven probably 1.5 million miles. I've seen nearly every traffic violation. I was once even ticketed for a "slight", his words, "movement without coming to a complete stop". So today I was coming out of the grocery store. Thank God there was a pick-up in front of me. The light turned green and the truck started a little forward and here ran a SUV through the red light. He started forward again and you could have easily counted to five in Swahili when as he started into the intersection an elderly citizen blasted through going forty in a thirty five.
Ok, my mistake; I moved to a town where the average age is 75. Her excuse would have probably been " how can I see the red light when I'm eighty and nearly blind!" And it would be laughable if it wasn't a national epidemic. Our mother was just like that. Blind in both eyes and she was driving me in from the airport and said she had no problem seeing the mountains but had a real problem seeing traffic and pedestrians. I drove myself from then on.
I was in Tulsa one evening having in that day seen 3 near misses and numerous lights and signs run and rolled. I stopped for supper at a cafeteria and in the line was a lady cop.
"In Oklahoma just how long after a light turns red are you allowed to drive through the intersection?"
"What do you mean how long?"
"Yes, how long, I mean the average in my driving around Tulsa today seemed to be about 7 seconds. So I assume the law must be 10."
"Are you crazy, you can't drive through on a red any time!"
"Well you could have fooled me."
It's plainly obvious that you can be arrested for smoking in public long before you can get a ticket for a red light/stop sign violation. I once asked a Little Rock cop the same thing and he just laughed and said he could write tickets all day at any intersection but he was too busy with real crime. You can't really blame him but people die every day because of the sorry state of American driving skills and respect.
In Brazil it's standard that you stop on red. Except after dark when no one stops on red because of car jacking. So you slow down on green and honk because you know that no one stops on red. Oh and here if you have traffic behind you and the light turns yellow whoa you are dead because the SOB behind you runs all reds and assumes you do to so surprise, surprise if you should even slow down.
Ok drive like you want. I haven't seen one person stopped in the last ten years for a red light/stop sign crime. We have raised the level of every issue to a "crisis". Had TV specials, colored ribbons, concerts, super-star support for every medical and emotional disease man can discover yet this crisis has no stars or ribbons. As our population gets older and more people are driving later in life it's plainly obvious, as the red on the light, that law enforcement needs to crack down or in a few years no one will stop for anything. Free-for-all driving. Just for the fun of it drive legally and sanely and see how many people honk and swear at you.
Kent M. Herrick
Red Light District of Kerrville.
Driving around Kerrville makes one think of a God Fearing, Law-biding Hill Country Hamlet.
Try driving through this town and see if you find one intersection where anyone is obeying the red lights.
Now I spent a wonderful 9 days in Brazil. Drivers there are for the most part Italian trained. That is, on a green light every Mario Andretti hammers his horn, irrespective of the fact that all cars are squealing and peeling. So imagine my amazement when I saw people actually obeying the traffic signals. Well almost. Now after dark there is another law.
I was riding with my son down a eight lane avenue dedicated to some dead revolutionary. We were going about 90 ... that's miles a hour, through the downtown. I had just relaxed my death-grip on the door, slightly. So when we approached the first light and it turned yellow I braced slightly and as it turned red I threw my hands across my eyes to avoid the sight of blood and then we breezed untouched through the intersection without death or destruction.
"You, You, don't stop on Red Lights!!" I screamed in true fear.
"Not in Brazil after dark. Possible car jackers." Said matter of factly as one might discuss a coming summer rain.
So imagine further kind reader, as we approached a Green light intersection and I hadn't braced at all and thusly he slammed on the brakes and nearly turned my head into a hood ornament.
"What the ####. That was a green light!"
"Yes in Brazil we stop on Green after dark"
" Why?" I asked amazed.
"Because we know that people don't stop on Red; so we must stop on Green."
Now readers, we come back to Kerrville. Hardly is Kerrville the crime capital of Texas. Men hold open doors for the ladies; ask "Howsyourmomandthem" to strangers; and watch sports without killing the visiting team and their just as loyal fans. But it seems that every driver in this town must run a red-light at the peril of all pedestrians; small children, and drivers of all manner of conveyance. Not just one car runs the light but two and three and once even four. What is the fourth guy thinking?
(1,000 Americans lose their lives each year in red light running crashes and thousands more are injured.)
The laws of most states are quite clear. If the light is red and you are in the intersection, unless inadvertently due to turning, you are wrong! Dead WRONG! That means maybe one guy can turn. Not four! Our City Police have enough to do without being paid to sit at every intersection and watch you "hurry-up-and-run-red-light" drivers. Combine you with the "coffee-donut-newspaper-cell-phone-baby-hollaring in the back seat, late for work crowd" and we have the beginning of pure pandemonium.
If Red light cameras are installed and they catch one potential light beating, car crashing, baby killer then all the money will have been well spent.
Of course we could just save the money and obey the law. Nah I doubt it.
Kent M. Herrick (Printed in the Kerrville Daily Times .... March 14, 2003
Then really mad:
Latest on Red Lights
Printed in the Kerrville Daily Times 12-9-04
RED LIGHTS AGAIN
As an unabashed Francophobe I usually can find little positive to say about the country of France. But recently I traveled there for research into World War One. We motored from the Swiss Border to the English Channel and the worst I can relate about French driving is to say that they tailgate. But other than that I saw zero violations of French driving law. But in the first drive through Kerrville after my trip, from East to West Kerr County, I observed no less than three run stop signs; five red light infractions and generally dismal disregard for pedestrians; animals and small children.
This scofflaw approach to Texas driving law is not some new found phenomena but so reoccurring; so persistent, and so commonplace that is has become nothing short of a simmering tragedy. My sister visiting from New Mexico was frightened by the common sight of people running four deep through red lights, and stop signs that are routinely just ignored. It was so bad the other day that the street sweeper ran the light at the Court House and nearly got me. A STREET SWEEPER!!
Ok for those of you that slept through "signs"; the only eight sided sign in the world means ... STOP. Stop is defined as " cessation of all movement " this does not mean rolling, somewhat hesitating; or just plain ignoring. A red light also means STOP. When approaching an intersection the yellow means a red is about to follow and you are required to STOP. What is the second through the fifth guy, and ladies too; thinking when they are running the left turn from Main on to North Sidney Baker. And when you point out the red to them they routinely either scream at you or flip you off. If it were the occasional "tail in the intersection" of someone who got one of those in betweener lights that would be forgivable, but not 10 people on one day while I was driving from VA to Ingram. One 15 minute period; ten people ran lights.
People; the fact that you have poorly planned your trip is no excuse for careening through intersection and generally causing mayhem, not to mention the number of traffic accident YOU CAUSE.
OK OK as usual this will be generally ignored and those of you that drive like morons will continue to do just that. BUT PLEASE be prepared to explain to those you maim and kill why it was that your blasting the light was so bloody (and I mean bloody) important.
This one they were just not able to print as I was demanding anarchy:
Caution!! I Stop at Stop Signs
My new bumper sticker. This will advise you that I will be stopping at all of those red octagonal signs you see placed about the city. I know that theyre inconvenient and therefore generally ignored so please watch my brake lights and refrain from tearing the rear end off my truck.
So why is this sign so generally un-noticed? I think I know why. A good bit of what we learn we do by observation. Our children learn to smoke by watching us and others. Our children learn to talk; go to church; read books; fight, holler, cuss and scream from us. So as children; riding along with mom and dad they observe that both generally race through yellow lights and ignore that pesky red sign. What our kids dont learn at home they learn at school; specifically they see the teachers, parents and students blasting stop signs on Loop 534 at Tivy High, I dont mean rolling the stop; I mean never braking, hesitating or even slowing down! Why should our impressionable teenagers learn to use stop signs or even obey laws in general if they see those empowered to instruct them disregarding simple traffic laws?
By observation I have noticed, ladies and gentlemen, that drivers race to a stop sign without any intention of stopping; and only slam on the brakes at the very last second if they see someone they cant beat through the intersection. OK, Maybe just pull all the stop signs out and lets try chaos and anarchy. Try it for a week and see if that works better.
The Kerrville Police write thousands of tickets. But they are not responsible for our sorry driving habits. They cant be on every corner watching you screw up. But they do have to respond to wrecks. They have to pull our bloody children out of our smashed up cars. Obviously, we havent killed enough people yet to make a big enough impression on the drivers of this town. So watch for my bumper sticker and when I stop, Please try to avoid running into the back of my truck.
Kent M. Herrick
April 25, 2005
- This was sent to the Kerrville Daily Times and printed--8-9-07
Recently we have read a continuing discussion of Yellow/Red Lights and the effect they have on the driving population. The argument seems to be that lengthening the yellow light will decrease incidents of redlight infractions and vehicular accidents. So if we spread $20 Dollar bills in the street that will decrease bank robberies?
People run redlights because .... they can; and because they have no regard for the traffic laws or for the lives of the people around them. They don't care if you live or die. They care that they are not inconvenienced by redlights or for that matter stop signs. Stop Signs ... they have no yellow warning light. So why do people run stop signs. They don't ease through; they don't hesitate and go; they don't
even look! They assume that a stop sign is just another impediment to their selfish, self centered little lives. If you are killed because of their malevolent behavior... so be it.
Change the lights however you see fit; but stop expecting this community to obey traffic laws. The Police are not responsible for your bad behavior; you are. They are not at fault if you run red lights and ignore stop signs, you are. If cameras will save lives; then let's do it because you have proved you will not obey the law.
Kent M. Herrick
Kent M. Herrick, Editor in Chief, 2011
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