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Stopped for nothing – should we change that?

A car waiting at a red light (Steve Garry).

I’m sure all drivers, at some point in time, experience the test of patience when they sit at a red light, literally waiting for no one. Sometimes the tempting thought of disobeying the red light comes into mind. A lot of people have obeyed that temptation, whether they would like to admit it or not, and most many people make it safely through the intersection.

You might say it is one of the most interesting issues for debate: is it morally right and safe to go through a red traffic light when no other car is around?

No, because you are disobeying the law.

Yeah sure, because no one is around. No harm, no foul.

But I think it’s time to change this question from a moral discussion to an idea. What if an amendment were made to the law where one can legally go through a red traffic light when no other car is around?

I already anticipate that you may think I’m insane. Hello, Emily? We have several idiots on the road already, and you want to increase the amount of dumb choices made on the road?

According to, “All states carry traffic laws that specifically require ‘obedience to traffic control signals and devices’ (or similarly-worded language), meaning that drivers must observe and obey all traffic lights and stop signs when operating vehicles. The most common traffic violation associated with traffic control signals and devices is ‘running’ a red light or stop sign.”

But, just as we are able to turn right on a red light unless otherwise indicated (legalized in 1978), then it should be legalized to proceed with caution through a red light only if there are no other cars around.

The amendment I am proposing would not give everyone free reign. When I say go through a red light, that does not mean running a red light. Running, or blowing, a red light implies that the driver does not pay attention to – or simply dismisses – their surroundings as they drive past the red.

I had interviewed a total of 20 people asking a couple of questions pertaining to this topic, and my results were very interesting. You may analyze the information in the accompanying infographic.

The common concern with this idea is that some drivers would be irresponsible with or abuse the law, and they would take it lightly, using it whenever they like. Insurance rates could increase, and more car accidents could occur. People could push the boundaries.

“I don’t think people are smart enough, so I [don’t think an amendment would be best],” Pre-Calculus teacher Anne Price said. “The red is there for safety, and it’s not hurting anyone.”

However, if a law were made, there should be restrictions to the law. Just as long as the lone vehicle comes to a complete stop, and looks carefully in all directions before cautiously proceeding…I can’t perceive it being more dangerous than turning right on a red or proceeding through a four-way stop.

It is really not that complicated.

“If there are no cars [around], do whatever you want, just as long as it’s not dangerous,” junior Delta Oswald said. Jokingly, she added, “And if I do die, then it was meant to be. When my time comes, it comes.”

Oswald’s exaggerated humor takes on a lighter tone about the subject, which I wish a lot of people would do. Going through a red light when no one is around should be legalized. Just so long as the licensed drivers of the road take it seriously and responsibly, no one will get hurt, or much less, die.

I believe, just like the “right on red” law, that a law like this one would be beneficial to several people, and save minutes waiting at a red light.

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Emily Kindl, Author

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