Motorists Who Brake While Running Red Lights

From news reports and everyday driving, we know that red-light running has reached insane levels here in the U.S., especially in the largest cities, where it’s not usual to see several cars blast through an intersection one after another. Yet, what I’ve also noticed is that perhaps 20 percent of these drivers actually apply their brakeswhile running the red lights.

Huh? Isn’t the goal to clear the intersection as quickly as possible, for personal/public safety and law-enforcement reasons?

Could this half-hearted braking be an incredibly lame attempt at convincing nearby police officers that the driver made every attempt not to run the red light? Or is it last-second guilt?

Don’t tell me this is all part of a carefully orchestrated ruse.

**Let me note… ** that this braking has no appreciable effect on the car’s speed. The brake lights simply come on, yet the cars races through the intersection.

tsunamisurfer, I think you know anyway, you’re just asking:

They see the yellow light come on, break, realise they can’t stop before the line, so they continue through as the red light comes on.

Actually, when I do it, it is a lame attempt to give the appearance of trying to stop. But you also have to make sure the front end dives down, for the full effect.

Nukeman wrote:

(emphasis mine)
Nope. It’s a Pavlovian response, when the light turns yellow, they automatically begin to break (as their supposed to) then realize, “Hey, I’m too important to stop”, and hit the gas.

According to the answers proposed so far, the brake lights would go off once the driver realizes that he’s not going to be able to stop.

But the way the OP is written, it sounds like the driver has a foot on the brakes while the other foot is on the gas. This is a phenomenon that I have not noticed, but maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. Tsunamisurfer, can you describe more clearly what it is that you see?

I think I’ve done that.

You’re in a place where you shouldn’t be (the intersection), but you’re going at an insane speed. You have to slow down so you might as well start asap - halfway through the intersection seems right. Earlier than that doesn’t make any sense unless you can see, before you enter the intersection, that you are ok. In that situation you can start braking just before the intersection.

I see you’ve been driving behind me again.

When I do this (admittedly, it is not often, and for me it’s when I’ve gone through on a very stale yellow) it is belated guilt. I know I should have stopped. Therefore, my goal is to look like a concerned, careful, under-the-speed-limit driver ASAP. Generally, once I am safely into the intersection (and mostly through it), my urge to slow down and look responsible is so great I start braking already. Yes, I should just whip through to get out of the way, but once I’m there and haven’t been flattened (which is what I likely deserve), the desire to look good kicks in.

I do this sometimes.

Usually, I have sped up a bit to make the light. Once I have “safely” entered the intersection, I no longer need to be speeding, so I begin to brake. But it’s usually sort of a coasting kind of brake rather than a creeching halt kind of braking – which would appear much as the OP described.

Actually, the cars aren’t rocketing through the intersection, as one poster suggests. They’re moving at general traffic speed and appear to be lightly applying their brakes–not enough to have any substantive braking effect–as they roll through the intersection and red light.

I just spoke to a friend about this. He says he does it frequently. Why?

“Because the police will leave you alone when you’re running a red light if you demonstrate that you are attempting to slow down as you do it and that you could not stop in time. But if you’re accelerating through a red light, they’ll nail you.”

IOW, if you put on a good show, they’ll let it slide. True or not?

I think some people drive with one foot on the gas and the other foot on the brake. They go through the red light accelerating, but the other foot lightly touching the brake causes the brake lights to come on.

Originally posted by tsunamisurfer

I have on occasion seen drivers who had actually stopped for the red light, accelerate with their brakes shrieking, before the light tusn green for them; near as I can figure, this means “I don’t give a damn about the law or somebody’s safety; I’ve waited too long, and I feel like going through the intersection now; and I’m shrieking the brakes so you’ll know I mean business–don’t get in my way.” Macho. :mad:
As noted in another thread, I saw some driver pull into the intersection before she had the red light–and promptly smacked into a car crossing the intersection legally! (This driver, however, did not shriek her brakes.)

…begin to break…
Geez-a-weeze, that should be brake. (But I guess it really doesn’t matter at this point!)