When did the law change to make stopping at red lights and stop signs optional? I have been driving on Washington’s roads since 1960 and over the past several years I have observed motorists of all ages, genders and ethnicities increasingly treating red lights and stop signs as an inconvenience. This practice has become so commonplace that it seems to suggest a mindset that, “(I)t’s acceptable if I can make it through the intersection.”
The increasing proclivity of motorists to intentionally ignore traffic signals and stop signs, coupled with a complete disregard for their safety and that of their fellow motorists, represents a dangerous trend and one that suggests a “tolerance policy” on the part of law enforcement. I recognize that our dedicated law enforcement officers cannot be stationed at every intersection and with limited resources, must prioritize their efforts to focus on more serious matters. However, I have come to the conclusion that the only remedy for this complete and utter disregard for the law lies in deterrence through increased enforcement.
One morning, I witnessed a King County Metro bus driver run through a red light in Redmond while making a right turn, forcing the operator of a vehicle approaching from his left to brake to avoid a collision. I recognize that operators of public transit vehicles enjoy special considerations; however, failure to stop at a red light prior to taking a right turn on red shouldn’t be one of them. We should especially be able to expect our “professional” drivers to drive in a professional and responsible manner. (This is not the first instance I have observed of a King County Metro bus running a red light — only the most flagrant.) Running red lights to maintain a schedule just doesn’t cut it and should not be tolerated.
I have been reluctant to lay this in the lap of law enforcement; however, this was the last straw and prompted me to finally sit down and write this letter. Asking the motoring public politely to be more considerate will clearly have no effect.