South City Confessions: Please stop running red lights!

Stop running red lights.

If there is one annual grievance I have with drivers in general is that they seemingly can’t be stopped. As in, they don’t care for or understand the impact of stop lights. You know, the big traffic posts flashing different colors at the big intersections? Yeah, that one. Pay attention.

Why do people have to run red lights? I’d really like to know. Honestly, enlighten me, someone who has run a light before. It’s really stupid and pointless to perform this maneuver in a car, but I see it every other day when I am out there. Someone runs a red light, but then stops at the next one a couple of blocks ahead. P-O-I-N-T-L-E-S-S.

I get really fixated on this idea, so I design different scenarios, also known as excuses to do stupid shit. Maybe they need to get home, because their girlfriend may not want to fuck them in another two minutes. Perhaps, the cheese pizza they just picked up will turn into a dried out Tombstone special if 55 seconds beats them to the door. Think about it. A mother of six needs to get to Tommy’s practice or else the world will casually just end! Coming to Netflix, next summer! I’m kidding, or so I think.

There’s no need for it. Two years ago, while driving for Uber, I was nearly killed by a red light savage. Heading down Bates to make my way towards Soulard, the mothership of party night in St. Louis, a truck almost peeled me right out of my car. He/she/they must have been doing 90 miles-per-hour down Gravois. I’ll never know, because lightning doesn’t stop to say hello. I was alive, so I simply passed. What if I hesitate to pump the brake right there, and leave myself right in harm’s way? It’s a surgical thought, thinking about your eventual death. How will it play out and when is it happening, so I can do some Grim Reaper yoga beforehand?

People violate a simple traffic law so much. Thousands of people die daily to drunk driving incidents, but do you ever wonder about the death toll at the hands of red light running? I did, so I did some Google digging. You know, the kind that takes 30 seconds. Via the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 846 people were killed during red light traffic violations. Over 139,000 people were injured during those events. A pale number in comparison to drunk driving fouls, but still a lot of people who would have been here if a simple rule was followed.

I get it. Life places burdens and on our shoulders and boundaries around our imagination. We want to break laws at times due to the number of them harnessing the level of fun in our lives. I’m not talking about murder and mayhem, not at all times at least, but more of the small crime variety. Things that remind us that we are somewhat in control of what happens.

Let’s just agree to keep running red lights out of those bloated hopes and dream sales pitches. Don’t ruin someone else’s peace just to get a hold of your own.  We can skip that bullshit here and now, saving a few lives right away in the immediate future. Drinking and driving is more casual than most want to realize. Sooner or later, most of us do it. But refusing to stop at a red is something that needs to be corrected. Both are bad ideas, but one is passed off more candidly.

Here’s how quick it happens. A truck goes through an intersection, refusing the red flash that told him to stop. In doing so, he smashes into another vehicle, a small sedan, nearly taking the front of the car off. The driver of said demolished car is dead on the scene, if not in one piece. Guilt settles in quickly, like a stranger that won’t stop lingering. The police come, witnesses form, and terror has its origin story. A family is broken, crumbling into pieces. A husband and father wiped off the books, the clock stopping in a blink. A best friend, loved one, and decent soul is gone, and FOR WHAT?!?!

For someone to get to the next point a few seconds faster. That’s it. Talk about the weak, and this action is the picture in the dictionary. That dead guy could have been me. In an instant, here and then not.

Let’s be better this year with traffic signals. Lives are depending on it.

Photo Credit: Photo by Ric Wayman, St. George News

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