Less traffic lights, more politeness needed
Friday, February 17, 2012 - 11:57 am

To the Editor:

I’ve been tracking the sea change starting over in Europe. Communities are experimenting with fewer traffic control devices.

The goal: reduced accidents and higher throughput. We’ve all experienced a power outage where the traffic lights are out. Is it a crazy nightmare of cars hitting cars hitting trucks hitting cars? No.

People drive slower, pause, make way for others, and proceed cautiously through the intersection. No accidents.

I think we would do well with fewer traffic lights here also.

We’ve all had the experience of trying to hold a door for someone else, only to find that they’re holding it for you.

We live in a politer-than-thou society, and I like it very much indeed.

There’s no reason to think that wouldn’t apply to drivers, if they were given a chance to be polite.

You see, the purpose of a traffic light is to allow you to ignore the drivers who have a red.

You don’t have to pay any attention to them, just as they don’t have to be polite to you when you have the red.

There’s no opportunity for kindness, no opportunity to give way, no opportunity to be polite.

Traffic lights are an uncivilizing influence on our society. They enable impoliteness.

They enable higher speed driving (but at the cost of having to stop still, causing your average speed to be lower than it would be without traffic lights).

Not to mention the evidence from Europe that they increase your driving time and cause more accidents. Google for me if you think I’m nuts. I have the facts to back this up.

Russell Nelson

Potsdam