You Have to Know Someone

by Bernard McCormick Tuesday, February 22, 2011 No Comment(s)

I guess you need to know someone who was killed by a light buster. I do. Therefore I am irrecoverably on the side of those favoring red light cameras. Lately there has been a lot of publicity about the efficacy, or lack of, such devices. I have seen studies that show a 25 percent drop in accidents at red lights. Other reports say the things cost more than the revenue they produce.

Revenue is not the point. Safety is. Red light accidents are often so serious because the light buster is accelerating to beat the light. A cop friend of mine used to say how amazed he was by the seriousness of accidents within city limits. Well, when somebody goes through a red light at 50 mph and catches some innocent driver broadside, serious can happen.

And it isn’t just red lights. Drivers who cut up side streets to save time are usually speeding. I have seen, not yet today, but I haven’t been out much, cars doing 50 mph in 25-mph zones, doing 65 in 45-mph zones, 90 on Interstate-95 – going as fast as they can go in any speed limit. Not only do I like red light cameras, I would vote for cameras that catch such speeders. I guess you have to know someone killed by a light buster.

I have a disturbing habit – apparently to many – of slowing down when I see a light change in front of me. For instance, if I am a block away and see a red light, I get off the gas. It is sort of a game. I just let the car roll, sometimes shifting down (I have a stick) to avoid braking. I like to see if the light will change before I hit the brake.

What happens though is the car behind me, who presumably can also see the red light, goes crazy and races around me. Thanks to tinted windows, I can’t see the driver who is probably screaming at me and making vulgar gestures. In some cases, on narrow streets, I have had drivers pull into the opposite lane to get around. And what happens, almost always, is that our cars wind up side by side at the light, or me just one car behind. I have often had cars race around me when I slow for a yellow light. They bust that light big time. I guess you have to know someone killed by an act like that.

As a side effect, I haven’t had brakes replaced in years. I wonder what the bills are for these people who roar by and then brake hard. One of the complaints you read about red light cameras is that they are an invasion of privacy. Absurd. Everything in modern life is an invasion of privacy. But nothing invades one’s privacy like getting broadsided on the driver’s side by a car going 50 mph, busting a light red as hell.

I guess you have to know someone.

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