Shortly after I started this blog, I published a post on three traffic myths. Since that time, I have become aware of four more traffic myths that need to be addressed.
Myth #1: If the car in front of you stops too long at a stop sign, you are free to follow it through the intersection without an additional stop. I guess that some drivers believe that stop signs are about time and not about the flow of traffic. How else does one explain the frequency that one car follows another past the stop sign without actually stopping? The idea of taking turns seems foreign to drivers. At this point I’ve come to expect other drivers not to stop, to the extent that I’m sometimes surprised to see another driver follow the rules.
Myth #2: It is bad luck to be the first car at the light when it changes to green. The common belief in this myth explains the large number of drivers who keep on going in spite of the light changing first from green to yellow and then from yellow to red. The other day, I saw a near collision between a car going straight and another turning left, and both of them entered the intersection after the light had turned red. I don’t know what bad luck these drivers expect if they actually stop as soon as the light has changed to red, but clearly they would not engage in such risky driving without a good reason.
Myth #3: It is bad luck to stay in the same lane of a multi-line street for more than four blocks. Some drivers weave back and forth between lanes—without signaling, of course—because they are slaloming around drivers like me who stick to driving at the speed limit. Others wander from lane to lane because they are busy texting or talking on their cell phones. Some drivers change lanes at random times for no apparent reason. I know of one street in a major city that consists of three lanes, all the same direction. Driving on that street at any time feels like being in the miniature car feature of a parade, with vehicles constantly weaving in and out of one another’s path while all traveling at about the same speed.
Myth #4: Louder is better. I actually saw a sign on the back of a truck in a parking lot which said, “Loud pipes save lives.” A picture of a tailpipe was part of the sign to make the truck-owner’s meaning clear. If the sign had shown a bagpipe it would not have bothered me, but governments require mufflers on cars, trucks, and motorcycles for two reasons: they reduce the noise of the vehicles, and they also filter out some of the air pollution. Vehicle owners who alter their mufflers so their vehicles make more noise are creating more air pollution in addition to more noise pollution. If I cannot hear my car radio over the sound of your engine, your engine is too loud. As I get older and crabbier, I am more likely to mention that fact to you if we are stopped next to each other at a red light.
As always these myths are being exposed as fallacies for the common good of all drivers. You are welcome.