Turn.

Last night as I was driving home from work I passed through the small village area before getting out to the much preferable countryside. The village has five traffic lights that I have to pass through. The lights are mostly unnecessary outside of the traditional traffic hours, the usual time that folks are driving to and from work.

I sat at the first light with two vehicles in front of me. The vehicle closest to the light was a red, mundane vehicle. The driver looked to be a young girl. Behind her was a man around my age driving a pickup truck. Pickup trucks are popular in this area. The truck was signaling that he wanted to make a right turn.

After about 15 or so seconds at the light, the truck pulled into the left lane and made a right turn AROUND the vehicle in front of him. He flipped off the driver on his way around her. She looked aghast. It was then that I noticed that she was also making a right turn, as indicated by her blinking directional lamp. The man was obviously pissed because the woman was just sitting at the red light instead of making a perfectly allowed and legal right turn on red.

New York State (outside of the city of New York) has allowed legal right turns on red since the early 1970s. I’m going strictly by memory, but I believe it was 1974 when this law was passed. Technically, you can also make a left turn on red, as long as you are going from a one way street to another one way street. As Earl is quick to remind me, one is not obligated to turn right on red but you are allowed to turn on red.

Personally, I think if you are incapable of handling a right turn on red then you should be relieved of your driver’s license, because it isn’t actually brain surgery to figure out how to turn right on red. It works just like a stop sign. You stop, see that there is nothing coming, and then you make a right hand turn and continue on your merry way. The reason this law was enacted so many years ago was because it kept traffic moving freely and decreased wait times at traffic signals for the traffic that wasn’t turning right.

The lack of turning right on red has become a huge pet peeve of mine. Again, Earl reminds me that no one is obligated to turn right on red. There are people that have printed bumper stickers up that say “I CHOOSE not to turn right on red”. I’d like to smack them. Hard. I guess I have a violent streak.

I overheard a mother telling her friend that she wasn’t letting the teen in her house (who presumably had a learner’s permit) turn right on red. “It’s too risky.” This is bad. It is when these young drivers have their learner’s permit that they are learning driving habits that are going to stick with them the rest of their lives. If they don’t turn right on red now, and don’t properly learn how to turn right on red, they’re never going to turn right on red. And then they’re going to clog the roads.

The City of New York doesn’t permit right on red because it’s too damn crowded. There’s pedestrians and all that. The drivers claim they can’t see. The folks that live in the City of New York need their nanny laws to tell them what to do and how to keep safe. The right on red law is, thankfully, something that was still considered for the rest of the state, we are allowed to be freethinkers up here. At least when it comes to right on red. The reason that I mention this is because over the past several years numerous folks from the five boroughs have been migrating northward to get some fresh country air. They are easily identified by (among other means) the different inspection stickers on their car windows. They never turn right on red. They clog up the streets. If it’s good enough for da city, it’s good enough for the world. I don’t like them.

One thing about right on red that baffles me, though, is that the younger drivers are interpreting the sign that indicates a “right turn only” (the arrow with the word ONLY under it) as “you can only turn right when the light is green.” The two concepts are completely unrelated but then again, driving and texting at the same time should be completely unrelated and not done in tandem as well, and we know how well that is turning out.

So as we continue to dumb down society by making mundane chores seem scary with nanny laws, we are also apparently reducing the average IQ.

The next time I choose to rant about something traffic related, we’ll discuss the “KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS” concept that is completely ignored on America’s freeways.

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