Inching forward at traffic lights

I live in the US, in the Pittsburgh PA area. It’s been a really long time since I was out of this area, so I’m not sure if this is common elsewhere.

But when I’m at a traffic light, the first person at the light almost always will inch forward, stop, inch forward again, stop, until the light turns green. Why do people do this? I thought it was impatience, but once the light does turn green, most of them don’t accelerate that fast. They just kind of creeeep along. It’s not like they’re in a hurry and just blast off once the light changes.

So, why do people do it? Foot slips on the brake? Impatience? Trying to anticipate the timing of the lights and failing? What?

Two reasons I can think of. One, in most cars with automatic transmissions, if you release your brake foot, the car will inch forward without any pressure on the accelerator. And Two, unless you know the light cycle, you might be anticipating the light change a second or two too soon. Some intersections have a red-all-around period between direction changes, and no one wants to be so slow to start up that the guy behind starts honking.

This almost never happens where I live. I did see a clip of some US roads and saw that someone had half their car over the stop line at a cross junction. It looked wrong. If I was approaching that on the cross road I’d think the guy was about to pull out, and I’d be forced to slow down in case he did.

So, it definitely doesn’t happen where I’ve driven cars.
Edit: Do US lights go amber before they go green? Maybe it has something to do with US lights being ‘Stop’ then ‘Go’, whereas UK lights are ‘Stop’ then ‘get ready’ then ‘Go’. (but most people go the instant the lights turn amber).

I have an automatic, and it’s the easiest thing in the world to just keep my foot on the brake. I even leave the car in drive a lot of the time (I put it in neutral if I know I am likely to be waiting a long time)

So the behaviour described in the OP I find a little baffling.
Edit2: Or maybe it’s the amount of time the light stays on Green? In the UK you usually get a decent amount of time to get through. If I see a light in the far distance and it’s on green, chances are it’ll still be on Green when I get there. It’s rare for a set of lights to have a short cycle (but there are some)

OK, that would be weird.

For the OP, I think it’s just that they’ve been waiting a while, and (subconsciously) they’ve decided they’ve waited long enough, and they’re ready to go. The light just isn’t cooperating.

People do that around here when in turn lanes because there are weight sensors in the ground (though far from universally) that let the light know if there is traffic waiting to turn - which is only really important at night when there isn’t much turning traffic. Sometimes you don’t hit them right, and people inch forward to see if they can catch its attention. Since they’re supposed to be paved over, you only really know one is there on a worn road, which makes some folks try at every light…

People do it here, also. And everyone behind them, like good little sheep, inches up to close the small gap. I don’t do it out of plain stubborness, and have actually had the person behind me honk his horn because I wasn’t moving up two feet. Idiots all.

Some obsessive compulsive drivers do it here.

If the people who do this were dogs, they would be one of the annoying, high strung little breeds.

Reason number 467# not to move to the US. That would drive me insane (people behind me honking if I don’t inch over the STOP HERE line.

I have observed very conservative drivers who approach an intersection so timidly that they don’t get close enough to trip the sensors (and the ones I know about are not triggered by weight, but inductive or capacitive changes in a circuit due to a large object passing over). Since nothing happens, it is a natural tendency to creep forward, and eventually they are rewarded by the signal changing. Not smart enough to know how this all happened, they repeat the process every time.

Since I travel by motorcycle in the summer, if I arrive as the first vehicle at a sensor, I try to get the following vehicle to move up closer, since my motorcycle won’t trigger the sensor. If they don’t, neither of us will get across.

If nobody minds me saying so: That sounds like a very badly designed system.

Do you mean the non-detection of motorcycles? Apparently it’s common.

I imagine when they set the sensitivity, they want to avoid triggers by animals or blowing debris, so they don’t want it to be too sensitive. And motorcycles don’t seem to be considered by many traffic engineers.

No, no, smart lights are awesome! It’s stupid people who are the badly designed part.
I hate sitting at a non-smart light system, late at night, no traffic, just waiting, waiting, waiting while the light goes through its cycle.

Basically because people are impatient, entitled, self-absorbed 5-year-olds who can’t stand to wait their turn for anything.

I also hate the people who roll all the way out into the intersection to wait for a left turn.

:confused: Isn’t this what you’re supposed to do?

Block intersections? I don’t think so.

You mean when they have a non-protected green? If so, how far are they supposed to roll into the intersection to wait for an opportunity to turn left?

That’s what I was thinking. Sometimes that’s the only way you’ll get through before the light turns red again.

I think the left turn thing is regional.

Here in LA you pull out to the 1/2 way point and wait. There should be 2 cars turning left at the yellow/red lights. You have to pull out before the opening or nobody would ever be able to turn.

They just converted the intersection I live on to 2 left turn lanes with turn signals in all directions.
I am a jogger and I run about 1/3 of my mileage on a major street. When I get off the main street and go into the neighborhood, at least 1/2 the cars I see ignore stop signs, speed, drive partially on the wrong side, are texting, etc. This is their neighborhood they are doing this on.

It is almost every day I come within a foot or 2 of being hit by a car. The most common problem is cars turning right in front of me. They look left to find an opening but never bother to look right at the sidewalk.

It makes no difference if I am wearing a reflecting vest and flashing light or not. They are too busy doing their own thing to see me.

I think most people just don’t consider others when they are behind the wheel.

I used to have the same problem in Oxford - I had a fibreglass kit car on a Mini subframe. It can’t have weighed more than 1/4 of a tonne. There was one intersection where my car failed to trip the circuit, so I had to reverse up the road and zoom down to the stop light several times to make it trip.

It seems that the UK is one of the only countries in the world for the lights to go Red, Red/Amber, Green. Not even Ireland does it. No idea why they don’t do it - I think our system is more sensible.

What are you babbling about? Unless you’re talking about people who creep into the intersection during a red light–which would be illegal and also something I’ve never seen–you’re not making any sense. When you have a green light in an intersection without a dedicated left turn signal, you pull into the intersection and wait for a lull in the oncoming traffic to take your turn. If you don’t get such a lull, you simply wait until the light turns and oncoming traffic stops to complete your turn. This is perfectly acceptable and legal.