The Red Light Debate on Safety

We all do it – hit the gas pedal on yellow lights and even run red lights when we’re in a hurry. As a responsible driver, there are many things we do that could create a safer environment for other drivers and pedestrians, yet we don’t do it. The worse offenses can even be made on alternative modes of transportation such as motorcycles and bicycles. Running a red light in a motorcycle or bike, believe it or not, may even be more dangerous and result in catastrophic accidents, often leading to death. We have to think about the design of our roads. Imagine a transportation design where no red lights are incorporated.

Maybe the reason why so many people, bicyclists, and car drivers break the red light rule is because it’s not efficient nor does it serve our needs. We need to propose alternatives to this driving system and eliminate traffic lights in totality. The idea of shared space has already been undertaken in Europe, where accident rates are very low. Naked streets or shared space traffic lanes are void of traffic lights, any surface markings, and even sidewalks. Although it is hard for Americans to imagine, these types of road system experiments have been proven to actually be safer for cyclists and drivers alike.

Leaving the street space intact without any alterations and traffic light addition has actually lessened the detrimental effects on the environment and improved the chaos and confusion of the roads for drivers and cyclists. Complicated traffic light systems mess up all the time and work improperly at the slightest sign of bad weather. Simplifying driving and our roads should be a priority, but how will Americans adapt to a new, less restrictive system?

The system that is already in place instructs drivers want to do, and often times this leads to mindless responses. Taking away restrictions forces drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike to think and respond on their own and to specific driving conditions at that unique time, encouraging responsible driving behavior. Don’t do just what the traffic lights say to do, but think on your own and drive accordingly.

An example of this is when drivers speed up, only to brake at a stop light. This inefficient method wastes gas, and shows that many drivers do exactly what the lights tell them to do, without much further thought. One of the best tips for drivers is to get in the habit of looking ahead and around you and anticipate what you need to do next. Simply following traffic lights may even be dangerous.

In less dense areas, naked streets have shown that drivers drive more slowly and carefully. They are in general more mindful of their environments and more aware of hazards. Traffic becomes more efficient this way when people have to direct themselves, communicate, and adjust their driving habits. It’s more safe, and people actually make way for one another.

As with any system put in place for driving, there are risks involved and if we adjust our driving infrastructure to naked streets, the importance of car insurance will be an essential, if not a more crucial driving component. To ensure that we are getting the best coverage and car insurance policy, it’s always a good idea to compare car insurance rates and drive safely.