Three traffic myths

I have to drive every day, and generally I do not enjoy driving. In fact, I find driving very stressful. The commercials that claim that driving certain cars is fun do not connect with me. Part of the stress of driving is sharing the road with other drivers. They do not follow the same rules that I was taught. In fact, I have noticed three myths that seem to be believed by a large number of drivers.
Myth # 1: When two cars approach a four-way stop and one of the cars comes to a complete stop, the other car is permitted to cross the intersection without stopping. I guess I understand the logic behind this myth. Why should both of us be inconvenienced by a silly little rule? As long as one car is stopped, neither one is in any danger. If I’m always going to be the law-abiding citizen, I should expect others to take advantage of my naivety. After all, it appears that I’m inviting them to go first. That’s not how it feels to me. To me, it seems that they want to play a game of chicken in the middle of the intersection.
Myth #2: Turn signals are always optional, but the best time to signal a turn is while you are making the turn, especially if it is a left turn. I know, I know, even the best driver sometimes forgets to signal a turn. Sometimes a good driver remembers to signal when it’s too late. Even so, I’ve seen so many turn signals that began as the car was turning that I really think some drivers believe this myth. I’m just trying to get home from work, and I’m driving in the fast lane to avoid those cars coming out of parking lots and driveways. I come to a red light, and one car is in front of me at the light. The light turns green. Then the turn signal comes on, and I have to sit there while we both wait for the oncoming traffic to clear. Meanwhile all the other drivers, who weren’t fooled by this one driver’s clever trick, pass us on the right, driving in the slow lane.
Myth #3: “Right turn on red” means that the cars approaching the green light should yield to the right-turning car facing the red light. This myth seems most prominent when drivers have just gotten off the interstate and come to a red light at the top of the ramp. They have been in a situation where lanes of traffic merge, and now they are not thinking about traffic signals. Yet it happens other places too. The car with the green light has to brake to avoid hitting the car with the red light. Amazingly, I’ve even seen a driver facing a green light invite the driver of a car facing a red light to make their turn. Don’t these people know that traffic engineers set the timing of the lights for the greatest convenience of the largest number of people? On the other hand, a basic traffic rule says that one should not enter an intersection unless they are sure they can get through the intersection. Sometimes, when the traffic is heavy, I or the driver in front of me will follow that rule. Almost invariably, the driver facing the red light will accept that as in invitation to make the turn.
I encounter drivers like this every day. I was going to say that I run into drivers like this every day, but I try very hard to avoid running into them. They don’t make it easy. A little less carelessness, a little more careful and considerate (and legal!) driving, and we will all get where we are going. Could we try this some day?
J.

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