Obnoxious behavior in traffic

Here are three things other drivers do which I hate. Feel free to add your own.

  1. When I’m making a left turn at a light, and there’s no left turn lane, and the traffic ahead of me is moving, but the light’s turned yellow, and I’m plainly NOT going to make it even INTO the intersection by the time it turns red, I often don’t feel safe going. Rather than blatantly disregard the light and act like I have the right to go through merely because I’m in a moving line of traffic (which I have gotten a ticket for in the past), I’ll just wait for the next green, thank you very much. Invariably, however, there will be some moron behind me who doesn’t care if I get a ticket, and expects me to openly defy traffic laws so that he can reach his destination 45 seconds sooner, and lets me know this by leaning on his horn. Sorry, pal, you might own the road, but I don’t, so take a chill pill.

(Note that I’m not talking about situations where I could pull forward into the intersection while the light is green, so that people can go around me on the right, and then go when the oncoming traffic stops, even if that means waiting until the end of the yellow. I do that. I’m talking about situations where I’m not even going to make it TO the intersection until the light is practically red because there are cars in front of me.)

  1. There’s no law that says that if you’re turning right, you HAVE to turn on red instead of waiting for green. Turning right on red is merely an option. I usually do it, but there are intersections where, even though there is no No Turn On Red sign, I don’t feel I have enough visibility (sometimes because of the nature of the intersection, sometimes because there’s a monster SUV waiting to turn left blocking my view) and would prefer to wait for green. I try not to do this at intersections where I would hold up traffic behind me going straight, but even where I’m in a right turn lane or on a shoulder, and people can go around me, the inevitable moron will pull up behind me and lean on his horn because I’m holding up HIS chance to make a right turn for 15 seconds.

  2. If you have a green light, but traffic is stopped ahead of you, you shouldn’t pull forward into the intersection. It’s called gridlock, and it means that when the light changes, traffic going in the perpendicular direction to you won’t be able to go, because you will be sitting in the middle of the intersection like the doofus you are. The people behind you will be no better off either. It’s not like your pulling forward 15 feet is going to help them make any significant progress on their journey. Yet, whenever I am in this situation, again there will be a moron behind me (is it always the same moron?) leaning on his horn, apparently desiring me to cause gridlock, believing that green light = “pull forward as far as you can, other traffic be damned”. What he believes this is going to accomplish other than blocking traffic I have no idea. He’s probably not thinking that far ahead, but merely thinking “Hey! Light green, but guy in front of me not go. What wrong with him? Him hold me up! Him bad! Bad guy, bad! Go, bad guy! Him probably asleep at wheel. Maybe if lean on horn, him go!”

I fear I’m going to get myself beaten or killed one of these days. In all of these scenarios (especially #3, which seems to happen a lot in areas with somewhat higher crime than I am used to) I can easily envision the moron turning out to be a deranged lunatic who jumps out of his car with a tire iron or gun in his hand and rushes toward me. So much for obeying the law and trying to drive safely.

I’m with you except for number 1. If you’re first in line at the light, you should be halfway through the intersection during the green time. When the oncoming traffic either clears or is stopping for the yellow/red light, they you make your turn. If you aren’t first in line, stay out of the intersection unless the car in front of you has cleared in green time.

I get number 3 all the time, too. Even when there’s a yellow grid across the junction just to doubly remind you not to block it. The one that really fucks me off it buses blocking junctions in this way.

(Apparently there’s one borough in SE London who have set up cameras on their yellow boxes, and have publicly said that bus drivers who break this rule are one of their main targets.)

He didn’t way he was first in line - he said he wouldn’t even make it past the light before the red.

You’re right, my apologies. On rereading the post, I agree with all three points.

Me, three. As Gallagher said, “If you’re in that much of a hurry to get somewhere, leave home sooner.”

Or, the old military saying: “Your lack of preparation does not constitute my crisis.”

On number 3, I agree with you.

On number 2, you’re wrong. You’re holding up traffic, and were it me behind you, I would honk at you too.

On number 1, I don’t get your meaning. The judgment call one makes when approaching a yellow light shouldn’t have anything to do with what the traffic ahead is doing (unless the intersection is blocked). If the light turns yellow, and you have time to stop behind the limit line, you should do so. If you cannot safely stop in time, you should proceed through the light. BUT, if you are the first car in line to turn left, you should have already pulled out into the intersection, and MUST complete your turn, even if the light changes.

D’oh - that wasn’t clear. The point I was trying to make is that the decision whether to stop when the light turns yellow should be based SOLELY on whether you have enough room to stop. If you can stop, you must do so. You aren’t supposed to try to beat the red light, even though everyone does that. What I don’t understand is why that would even be a matter of contention.

So you suggest he pull into traffic when he has no visibility whatsoever of what’s coming? How is that safe or appropriate?

And you’d be sitting there, happily honking away, until either I could see or the light changed. If I can’t tell that it’s safe, I’m not going to turn. Period.

One of the few things I liked about Ohio, at least the Dayton area, was that the traffic engineers didn’t leave it up to the driver to decide if an intersection’s visibility was good enough to safely turn. If the road came up a hill, or around a corner, or suchlike, they slapped up a ‘no turn on red’ sign. We could stand more of those in Denver.

The proper procedure is to slowly edge out into the intersection far enough to see if traffic is coming. I do it every day, and I have yet to be hit by an approaching car while making a right turn.

Even if the only sense in which I was “holding up traffic” were that I was preventing you, who are behind me, from (potentially, since there’s no guarantee you’d be able to) making your right turn for the 10-15 seconds before the light turned green?

I don’t know, ask the guy who honked at me this morning. The cars in front of me were turning left too, and several had already proceeded through the intersection on yellow. If I had completely tailgated the car in front of me, I would have just barely made it out into the intersection while there was still a fraction of a second of yellow left, and made most of my turn on red. That’s apparently what the guy behind me wanted me to do.

How many times would you have to be hit before you changed your approach? Look, I’m pretty much a traffic Nazi myself. But as the OP stated, it is his option to stand fast on a red light. If he, for any reason, judges a turn to be unsafe, how can you be in a postion to override that judgement?

Have to disagree. I drive a smallish sports coupe and there is a certain intersection in my neighborhood where it is virtually impossible to see if anyone is coming when there is a big, honking SUV immediately to the left pulled out too far. (and this is Texas…we have lots of big, honking SUV’s and trucks) If I inch my way out I’ll be in the middle of the intersection, thereby pissing off the guy who has the right of way instead of the guy behind me. If I can turn safely, I will. But, if I can’t see incoming traffic because of the big SUV, I won’t make the turn. Period.

I don’t know about where you are but completing a turn on red is perfectly legal around here.

First of all, lights at busy intersections can take quite a long time to change. I have waited MUCH longer than 15 seconds before. Second, traffic can back up waiting to turn right, and there can be pedestrians in the crosswalk on the green lights, and you really need people to go on the red light to relieve the congestion.

If you truly can’t make that right turn because there’s no safe opportunity to do so, then I wouldn’t fault you. But “I can’t see” isn’t a good excuse, because you ought to edge out until you can see. I always give people the benefit of the doubt; if you’re not moving, I assume it’s not safe for you to do so. But if some dork is just sitting there picking his nose when it’s abundantly obvious that it’s clear to go, yeah- I’ll toot my horn at them. It’s just discourteous to hold up traffic when there’s an opportunity to go. It’s not YOUR call to make as to how long you think it a reasonable time for them to be held up behind you.

So if you really made every effort to inch forward and see if anyone’s coming, and you still couldn’t safely make the turn, I’ve got no beef with you. But let me tell you that I see yokels EVERY DAY who just sit there like they’re in a coma until the light turns green.

Oh, then you’re totally right. That guy was being an ass. I agree with you 100% on that one.

Care to cite that “proper procedure”? Besides, the OP clearing indicated that he doesn’t go in instances where he *cannot * see traffic. You have clearly indicated instances where you *can * see traffic. See the difference?

Once. But that’s not gonna happen, because it’s quite simple to edge into the intersection to improve your vision while still remaining far enough back so as not to impede traffic.

But it shouldn’t be for ANY reason, it should be for a GOOD reason. And that’s all a judgment call. If one has a good reason for waiting, that’s fine. But if one is just waiting there behind the limit line at the red light because he’s a chicken-shit, or feels like he has all the time in the world and just doesn’t want to bother to look for traffic, then that’s inconsiderate. It may not be illegal, but it’s inconsiderate nonetheless. Like I said, if the OP isn’t doing that, I’ve got no beef with him. I’m just telling you that I see people do it every day.


You do not seem to get this. It is his call and no one else’s. He is not required to turn. And do you really think that people who do not turn on red are making a decision about how long traffic behind them should reasonably be hleld up?

If you want to come to my house, I’ll show you my driving instructor’s license. It’s been awhile since I taught, but the rules for making right turns haven’t changed.

Hmmm…you have trouble reading, I see. We haven’t established if he inches past the limit line in order to see. I clearly said that I do not fault him if he has done everything he can to establish whether it’s safe, and still can’t safely make the turn.