Running red lights

Eastbound on Sixth Street Monday, I pulled into the left-turn-only lane at the traffic light at the Sixth and Duck Street intersection.

The light was green for eastbound lanes except in the left-turn lane, which was red. At this particular traffic light, the left-turn lane does not get a green arrow until after the red light comes on for eastbound, straight-through traffic.

Maybe the driver in front of me didn’t know this. Maybe she didn’t care. Perhaps she just assumed the light was green for the turn since it was green for straight-through traffic. Whatever the reason, she obviously was intent on making a left turn whether the turn signal was green or red. I decided this was the case when I saw her edging her car past the crosswalk and into the intersection.

Sure enough, as soon as the oncoming, westbound traffic cleared, except for a car still a quarter of a block or more away, she made her turn onto Duck Street, clearly running a red light. At least, she was careful while running it.

Seconds later, the green turn arrow came on, meaning I could now turn and the light for the oncoming, westbound traffic had turned from green to red. However, I didn’t press the accelerator because I had noticed that the oncoming car had not slowed down. The driver was staring straight ahead with a determined expression on her face.

Did she not see the red light? Did she think she was going through on yellow? Did she assume her steady speed would intimidate me? I don’t know. Whatever her thinking, it was clear she was coming through the intersection. She kept coming and didn’t appear to even glance my way. Perhaps she didn’t see me, though I doubt that.

All of us who drive have experienced similar scenarios. If the truth be known and we admit it, chances are most of us have been guilty of similar actions. I don’t know that I have ever run a red light in a left-turn-only lane, but I have pushed it through yellow lights and have seen the light turn red before I got through the intersection. That’s dangerous driving and nothing to be proud of.

As I thought about the situation after watching the two drivers go through red lights, I got to wondering: How often do we run red lights in life like we do in traffic?

You know what I’m talking about. Some things in life we know we shouldn’t do; those are red lights. But we do them, anyway.

Our religious convictions tell us not to do them. Our conscience tells us some action is the wrong thing to do. Our parents or teachers tell us not to do that. It may even be something unlawful. Whatever the situation, we know not to do it. We have a red light.

But we do it, anyway. Maybe we, like the driver in the left turn lane, edge forward slowly and watch traffic for the safe opportunity to turn and then run through the light. Maybe we aren’t cautious and observant enough to see the red light. Or, perhaps we just don’t care whether the light is red or green. Maybe, like the oncoming driver who was determined to go through the intersection, we are determined to take a particular action and we are not heeding the yellow warning light or think it won’t matter, anyway, because the light will just barely be red when we go through the intersection.

Regardless of the reason for running a red light in traffic or in life, it is a dangerous action—not only to us, but also to others.

For our own well-being and that of others, it is advisable not to run the red lights in life.

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