Decisions Of A Yellow Light

I may have told you before, but I don’t have a driver’s license. Not yet, at least. Almost there. I just never needed one. Everywhere I wanted to go, I could just take the train or my bike. In fact, you only realize how used you are to your own mode of transportation when a foreigner tags along with you. I took Mrs Missouri for several bike rides in the Netherlands, and it surprised me how some things come natural to me that others have to consciously decide and act on (like braking). Cyclists in Dutch cities seem to randomly zoom through traffic, but everyone knows what others on the road are doing. That’s how you can spot a tourist from a mile away: neither you or the tourist have an idea what they’re going to do next.

For years, this was my view when going places.

For years, this was my view when going places.

Now I suddenly find myself on the other side. The clearest example occurred on one of my first times driving, fresh permit in the pocket. I was going exactly the speed limit and noticed the light turning yellow. We were at a point where I could either stop or speed up, but it was a decision that was entirely new to me. Still going the exact same pace, I was trying to make a decision. Mrs Missouri, who felt no difference in the car’s movement whatsoever, wanted to make sure I realized what was going on. In an effort to provide me with a solution, she told me to ‘decide’! I really hoped she would tell me to stop or go, because now we were still going at the speed limit towards the light. It turned red as we passed into the intersection, where I sped up, because the decision was made for me, after all. It was weird to experience the newness of having to make such a decision. Now, when I approach a light that I suspect might turn yellow, I try to consciously move from the ‘stopping zone’ into the ‘speeding up zone’, so that my decision is ready to be made whenever the light turns. 

I called it indecisiveness, but I was really just doing the math (making the blue part of the graph extraordinary long).

I called it indecisiveness, but I was really just doing the math (making the blue part of the graph extraordinary long).

What’s your best advice when it comes to driving?


4 thoughts on “Decisions Of A Yellow Light

  1. The decision to brake or to speed up always stays conscious when driving a car and approaching a light at a certain speed when it changes. As for my best advice: you see lots of people driving out into the intersection to turn left as soon as they can. Don’t do that. My husband did, so I did, too, in the beginning, but I felt that I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to go at some point, in order not to get stuck in the middle of the intersection when the light turned red. But with that kind of pressure, you might make yourself go when it’s really not a good idea. Which it actually never is, because there are always people coming from the opposite direction who want to run the yellow light while they still can. So many of the accidents I’ve driven by in the past 19 years happened in just such a situation. Just the other day, there was a huge accident at the entrance to our subdivision, with a Honda wanting to turn left into the neighborhood and a truck running the orange light from the other direction.Four people dead. It was such a big accident that my husband, who was in New York, heard about it and called me to see if I was alright. (I have a Honda.) He should’ve known better, though, because I would never do that.

      • No, not where the light is red, but where you can turn left on an unprotected green if nothing is coming from the opposite direction. And then it turns orange, and then you start feeling the pressure to go.

  2. Some busy corners here–I’m not sure about any of the United States–we have cameras and if you go through a yellow OR red light, the camera takes a picture of your license plate and you get a ticket in the MAIL. 🙂

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