Should I stop or should I go?
I believe that following rules of the road will keep us safe as drivers, but sometimes there are times you need to think outside the box. Red lights mean stop, but is there ever a time that stopping would be unsafe? Let’s stop and take a look at what I mean.
I was approaching a set of lights the other morning when the light turned amber (yellow). According to the Highway Traffic Act, when approaching an amber light I need to stop, provided it’s safe to do so. I checked my mirror just before the light changed and saw a driver tail-gating me. Had I not checked the mirror I would have braked to a stop, but would have easily been rear-ended. Traffic behind you is a huge factor to decide if you can stop at a light or not. Do you check your mirror before slowing?
Whenever I’m teaching students to drive, one of the major items is whether or not to stop if the light changes from green to amber. This is truly a mental decision and not a fixed point on the road. Your decision can change at each traffic light you come to. The decision to stop or go is based on the speed you are traveling, the road conditions and the traffic behind you; including their size and closeness.
The other day I was driving with someone when we went through an amber light instead of stopping for it. My passenger said I should have stopped, but once I showed them the driver tail-gating us, they agreed going through the light was the safest thing to do. Remember, the amber light means; “Stop if it’s safe to do so”. If it’s not safe, please continue through the intersection with extreme caution. Speeding up may interfere with the decisions of the opposing drivers and slowing down will bring the driver behind closer.
The advice I give is this; as you approach a green light that has either been green for awhile, or you didn’t see turn green, you must ask yourself this question; “Based on my speed, the road conditions and the traffic behind, if the light turns to amber now, will I stop or go?” Your decision is always stop until you reach a point where stopping safely is impossible. This is purely a judgment call, but it’s important to make this decision early, before the light changes to amber. If the light changes to amber before you reach this point, you must stop because you can!
Let’s become safer at intersections with traffic lights by making proactive decisions, rather than suddenly reacting because the amber light has caught you by surprise. To stop or not to stop, that is the burning question at traffic lights these days. Let’s make an educated decision next time.
**Has your driving mentality changed? Read HERE