Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What Does the Situation Warrant?

I committed a traffic infraction over the holiday weekend.

Yes, I admit it--I looked at the traffic situation and then did something the sign said not to do.

The situation:

About 10 AM on Monday, Labor Day near a mall outside of Williamsport, PA, we had made a quick potty and coffee stop at a Burger King off Interstate 180. At the intersection onto the road coming out of the shopping area was a sign--Right Turn Only. I, of course, needed to go left. There was no traffic on the road. Seriously, no one.

Why is this sign so absolute when there clearly are times when making a left turn is not a traffic issue. My guess is that during the busy part of the day, left turning vehicles back up into the shopping area creating congestion and fostering risky driving behaviors as people attempt to turn into tight traffic spaces. But, I don't know because we were the only car at the intersection.

Am I allowed to evaluate the situation and make a conscious decision that obeying the sign does not make sense?

The situation:

Nighttime, red traffic light. No other vehicles or headlights in sight. Anywhere!

Why am I waiting for the light to turn green? Yet, I do.

The situation:

Sitting at a red traffic light on a one way street in Ithaca, NY (Seneca and Tioga Street). Tioga does not cross Seneca at this point, the only turn is right and there, by definition cannot be any cross traffic or turning traffic--yet there is a "No Turn on Red" sign above the intersection.

Why is this turn not allowed?

The situation:

A STOP sign at an intersection with great view of the approaching vehicles when attempting a right turn.

Stop, or roll through treating the STOP more like a YIELD sign?

I confess, I am not really sure where this line of thought is headed--but I am pondering that question I heard many years ago:

Does a RED light make you STOP?

-- Bob Doan, Writing from Denver, CO

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