Right on Red

A Truck

Have you ever been startled by the sight of a monster vehicle bearing down on you through your rear-view mirror? I have a theory, if right on red had not become law road rage would not be part of our vocabulary. This small convenience has somehow granted drivers the authority to behave selfishly.

I understand the concept of right on red, it saves time. The Western United States adopted right on red first. Eastern states began allowing right on red in the 1970’s as an energy savings response to the 1973 fuel shortages. Drivers were cautious at first, but it didn’t take long for impatience to settle in leading to abuse of the law.

Drivers no longer come to a full stop at a red light and do not yield to oncoming traffic or pedestrians who legally have the right of way. This has expanded to ignoring stop signs, red lights and yield signs. Add to the list speeding, tailgating, passing on the right, passing on a solid double yellow line, crossing over multiple lanes multiple times to move a few spaces ahead in traffic and driving through parking lots to avoid red light intersections. And yes, left on red from the right-hand lane. Some maneuvers are so complex words cannot describe them, only a diagram would get the point across.

Courtesy and common sense have been replaced with rudeness and ignorance. One might wonder how a multi-car pileup can occur in a thirty mile an hour zone, or why law enforcement seems to appear only after the fact.

In France, turning on red is not allowed and driving there is not for the faint of heart. Highway traffic is swift and precise. Slow traffic travels in the far-right hand lane and is passed by faster moving traffic on the left. The far-left lane is entered only when traveling faster than all other traffic on the road. After passing, the traffic quickly moves to the right again until there is a need to pass. Traffic circles are much the same, he who hesitates may never make it into the circle, but incoming traffic yields to the traffic already in the circle.

There is a social dynamic that is aggressively gaining traction that I often refer to as stupidselfishness. My dream is to flip this pervasive attitude to one of thoughtful consideration for others. I often discuss escaping to my own personal mountaintop where I can disconnect to an environment free of the stressful situations we all encounter every day. The right on red attitude I describe here is a sort of metaphor for the world we find ourselves in today. Living amongst disconnected people that have an “IT’S ALL ABOUT ME!” attitude, a disconcerting human inclination that is pervasive and at times frightening and definitely hazardous to our well-being. Always be excellent even if no one is looking and hope others follow your example. 

Thank you for listening.