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Squeezing the Lemon

Don’t squeeze the lemon!!!!

We aren’t culinary experts and we certainly aren’t selling lemonade. In fact, we are talking about squeezing through a yellow light as it turns red. As silly as it may sound, it is an extremely serious subject. More times than not, we “think” it was yellow, but in fact the light was essentially red.

We may wipe the perspiration from our brow.

We may even feel the rush of acting a bit like a daredevil.

We may even sigh with relief as we check the rearview mirrors and there is no sign of a police officer.

The truth is a yellow light is one of traffic’s greatest caution signs; yet, we tend to push the limits each day.  The U.S.  Department of Transportation published a “myth vs. fact” study to help Americans better understand this subject.

Myth:  People do not run red lights on purpose. The yellow is just too short.

Fact: More than 1 in 3 drivers (37%) admit to running a traffic light that had just turned red when they could have stopped safely in the past 30 days.

(Source: AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index 2011. Released January 2012)

Fact: The yellow interval does not determine the stopping time of those who choose to stop, because their deceleration and slower average speed as they stop means they have longer than the yellow interval to achieve their stop.”

(Source: Hu, W. “Comment on ‘Isaac Newton vs. Red Light Cameras: Derivation of the Yellow Light Interval Equation’ by Brian Ceccarelli” IIHS. August 2010)

 Myth: Longer yellow light times will make intersections safer.

Fact: Raising the yellow light time might reduce violations, but it doesn’t change driver behavior. In fact, it may cause secondary problems when the driver learns an unsafe behavior that could cause a crash at other signal locations where yellow intervals may not have been extended arbitrarily.

 Furthermore, in Georgia, they added 1 second to yellow light times at intersections with red-light cameras in 2009. As a result, red-light running fatalities in the state increased 53% from 2008. Red-light running fatalities in 2010 and 2011 were 41% and 88% higher than in 2008. (Sources: NCSA office of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Georgia House Bill 77).

Based on the statistics, far too many accidents are occurring because we think it is safe to squeeze through that yellow light. The extra minute or two at the stop light can be had if that means it will save a life. Please don’t get in the habit of “squeezing the lemon” or you may be sorry of the sour outcome.

For more information about this article, contact Kaine Law.

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