THE GRIDLOCKSMITH, traffic safety activist, "Roads Scholar," former "Road Warrior" who lost a brother (aged,15) on the road in 1969, has compiled many observations and ideas about traffic safety after 3 decades of driving for a living. "Are you part of the problem, or part of the solution? Set a safe example in traffic." You, too, can be a gridlocksmith. "Road-Peace is a step toward World Peace." - Earl Shoop

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Location: Silver Spring, MARYLAND, United States

Looking for what's logical, efficient, kind and fun... Traffic safety became a personal issue when my youngest brother died on the highway. I observed traffic unsafety while driving for a living(30yrs). Spread the word about "Road-Peace" as a step on the road to World Peace. Since those wise and gentle enough to create World Peace will not treat each other as we now do, in traffic, the road is a good place to focus our efforts. see

Sunday, January 01, 2006


(last revised: July 20, 2009)
These posts should always be considered as drafts.
Your comments make a difference, here. -gls


No sane driver wants to run RED lites. Why would anyone
want to risk being in the middle of an intersection just as
someone else is approaching from the side at full speed?
The Darwin Awards are not that hard up for candidates.

So, if people don't want to run RED lites, why does it happen?


When the YELLOW lite comes on you are not certain exactly how
much time remains before the dreaded RED lite.
You must judge whether to stop, or proceed through the YELLOW.
The thought processes can become dizzying:
how long does this particular YELLOW stay on?
if I slam on the brakes, will something in the back come hurtling into my head?
will my car be struck from behind?
is the pavement wet or dry?
With all this thinking going on out there, it is a wonder that we don't accidentally
run RED lites more often.

The "Dilema Zone" (ie: Do I Stop or Speed Up?) as it is expressed
by at least one traffic engineer, is a source of driver stress that
we can do without.

It would be nice if we at least had a marker that said to us, "If the YELLOW comes on when you are at the speed limit, at this very spot, then you should proceed. If you have not made it this far, you should stop." There could be problems, such as weather, of course. Any more ideas?


Cameras may not be the best possible solution to RED lite
runners. Aside from the expense, which is considerable, the
safety factor is questionable. Uncertain drivers sometimes will
stop at YELLOW lites, risking rear end collision. Don't believe it?
"Red-light cameras are blamed for a somewhat higher rate of
rear-end collisions caused by drivers braking suddenly at
intersections when lights turn yellow. "--WASHINGTON
POST EDITORIAL (Monday, February 27, 2006; Page A14)

Moreover, driver reaction has been cynical, many claiming that the YELLOW might be shaved to create violations and gain revenue.
The public can hardly be blamed for skepticism if officials do not
more aggressively seek our input.

If the public had been asked, it is likely that someone would have suggested count down signals such as we now see for pedestrians. Or, rumblestrips to mark the "Go-Zone." Or... How
about a system that requires no investment in new equipment at all? One allowing drivers to know exactly how much time remains before the lite turns RED, and whether to proceed or stop at the intersection.


Let's give drivers a break. If we double the YELLOW time there should be no excuse for running the RED. Plus, to make sure drivers know how long the YELLOW will last, clearly mark the half point. This will not need to extend the time of the cycle. It can be accomplished by simply advancing the YELLOW to overlap the last part of the GREEN.

With this overlapping system, when the driver sees the YELLOW lite
come on, there will be twice as much time and distance to judge
whether to stop or go. (If you are twice as far from the intersection
when you see the lite, aren't you twice as likely to not even think of
speeding up?) When the GREEN disappears, the halfway point has been reached. If the motorist has not gone at least half the distance, stopping is the obvious choice.

The benefits from such a system include:
  • fewer driver errors from confusion and frustration.
  • Fuel savings will be enhanced as drivers, knowing further in advance, will elect to coast to the intersection.
  • Traffic flow could improve as left-turners see their opening sooner.
Can we call it "Mellow Yellow?" (That's right..)

Perhaps this could be tried, first, where red lite cameras exist. Then, those who are ticketed will not be able to complain about the shortness of the YELLOW lite.

What are your thoughts?

(last revised: July 20, 2009... older comments refer to earlier version)


Blogger bob said...

this idea is right on. this had been my experience. once I know where the cameras are, I start driving funny when I come to those intersections. I believe most people have already adjusted to the fact that people run red lights and they already anticipate the actions of bad drivers. Also most of the cameras are at intersections where the overall wait if you don't make the light, is over four minutes. let's get rid of big brother.

11:21 AM, January 03, 2006  
Blogger The Gridlocksmith said...

If by "big brother" you mean a burrawkussy that imposes its will on us plebes without asking for our input, then I agree with getting rid of that. I believe that if we the people were consulted more on what makes sense on our roads, we would be less inclined to "roadrage."
Let me mention, here, that the lovely sunset pic was taken by my wife, the lovely and gracious Laurie Summers, last Summer in Vancouver. In the process of posting it, I discovered that it could be stretched to look more panoramic than the original.
Happy New Year!

12:30 AM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Eric Lester said...

Don't know about your world, but here in Washington drivers are supposed to stop for yellow lights.

4:46 PM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger The Gridlocksmith said...


It must get rather noisy, with all the screeching tires every time the lite turns yellow. Actually, I have been to Seattle, but do not recall such commotions.

Congrats on the Seahawks first NFC Championship. I didn't even mind so much that they beat my Skins on the way, since my cousins who grew up in Snohomish had to be happy.

3:11 PM, February 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It all comes down to too many people on the roads. Everybody thinks they are number one and their time is more important then everyone's else. Why not leave earlier. Our quality of life is being destroyed, growth is not always a good thing.

I like the green/yellow combination but how do you educate the public? We don't all speak english. We only take the written test once to get a drivers premit.

I seem to remember that solid white lines were use to indicate if you have time to make it through an intersection. If the light turned yellow and the vehicle was in solid white line area then you had time to make it through the intersection. But you have to go the speed limit and of course not be on the cell phone.

I do not like big brother because it takes away due process. What is really happening around you. Did you keep going because the vehicle behind you is too close.

OOTRR (Out Of The Rat Race)

6:47 PM, February 28, 2006  

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