A couple of weeks ago, The Daily News published a front-page story on the growing trend of Kamloops drivers to ignore red stop lights. I assigned the story because I see it happening every day, and its getting worse.
I thought the story went a little too easy on the issue. It truly is the case that more and more drivers are blatantly breaking the law and putting others at risk by running red lights.
Used to be that when some drivers saw an intersection light change from green to yellow they would speed up to get through before it goes red. That, in itself, is dangerous and illegal. Yellow lights are an alert that you should slow down and be prepared to stop, not that you should speed up.
There are two types of red-light bandits. The ones I just mentioned, and the left-turn cheaters. It’s common for drivers waiting to turn left to pull into the intersection and wait for the light to go yellow so the oncoming cars stop, then do their left turn before cross-traffic gets rolling.
Often, one or two other left-turners will tag along. This helps clear things out at controlled intersections without left-turn lanes, and no harm done.
Now, though, people are speeding into intersections that have already turned red and cranking through their left turns.
The secret to “success” in running red lights is that you get into the intersection before the cross traffic has hit the gas pedal. If you mistime it, you’re in trouble.
People do it because they know they can get away with it. It’s an increasingly dangerous situation, and it’s becoming so accepted that the red-light runners will become bolder and bolder, pushing the envelope. And people will start getting hurt or killed.