How many times have you seen it? How many times have you done it?
I see it a lot and it’s starting to get scary.
I know —it’s hard not to do it.
Everyone else does it.
I used to do it all the time and, last week, I did it, even though I’ve tried very hard to resist the impulse.
What I’m talking about is hitting the gas after the light has turned yellow, trying to make it through before the light turns red. Far too often, though, the light is red before you’re all the way through, and it’s green for the drivers whose path you are crossing.
Of course, a lot of the time it happens when someone has been waiting and waiting and waiting for the opposing traffic to clear so they can make a left turn.
You’ve edged out into the center of the intersection and, finally, the light turns yellow so the cars coming from the other direction will have to stop, and you can make your turn. Hit the gas!
But hold on, the guy behind you has been waiting, too, and he hits the gas!, tailgating behind you into the turn. You see him on your tail in the rear-view mirror as you are moving into the turn.
Coming from the opposite direction, the driver of a SUV in the outside lane sees
the yellow light and… hits the gas! to make it through the intersection so he’s not slowed down getting to wherever he’s going. Neither of you can see the other because of a semi in the inside lane and the guy behind you on your tail who is concentrating on the back of your car, trying to will you through the turn a little faster.
Down the street that you were turning into, just over a small rise, a young man in a new car sees the light turn green… and hits the gas!
Last year, in a town near us, a high-school student rushed to make a left turn as the light was changing.
As I recall, she survived.
Unfortunately, he passenger — her grandmother —didn’t.
Hit the gas!
(written September 17, 2004; edited January 4, 2006)