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Confusion at the red light
Sudie Crouch

I’m kind of a rules girl. I tend to abide by policy and procedure, and think such things provide us with a nice framework in which to operate.

Hence my fondness for traffic laws.

The rules governing us on the roads have always been something I have tried to adhere to closely, even though my own grandmother took them more as suggestions than law.

“You are going too fast!” I would cry from the passenger seat. “Don’t you see the speed limit is 65?”

The old woman would grunt at me. “That’s the minimum they want you to go,” was her reply.

The fact Mama allowed Granny to drive into her 90’s was downright insane and proved my crazy redhead was more of a risk taker than I realized.

“She said she is the best driver in the family and if we want to go anywhere outside of the city limits, she’s driving,” Mama explained.

Best driver? I personally thought after a certain age – like 65 – people should have to take their driver’s test again. Granny, with her fast and loose ideas of what constituted driving laws, would surely fail.

“I ain’t got no tickets. I ain’t got in no wrecks, not lately. Well, none that was my fault. And I ain’t going to go around worrying about some silly little rule about how fast I need to go. I keep up with the flow of traffic. If they wanna give me a ticket, they gonna need to catch me first,” she announced when told she needed to heed the rules.

“It’s the law,” I said simply. “You need to be more careful, Granny. You need to follow the rules.”

“Uh huh.”

I sighed. I couldn’t get the old woman to listen to me. She was stuck and set in her ways, and her ways often meant she did as she pleased.

Now, let someone else break the rules and she had another opinion entirely.

Granny was known to lay on the horn and use crude hand gestures when someone cut her off or pulled out in front of her to go slower than molasses.

“How is that nonsense legal?” she asked one day after someone pulled out in a rush to go about 10 miles under the speed limit. “If I hadn’t just had my brakes fixed at Bulldog Tire, I would have slammed right into them.”
It was futile to tell her if she had been going the posted speed limit, she wouldn’t have had to slam on her brakes at all.

But Granny wasn’t worried about the speed limit. She was trying to get her groceries and get home in time for Wheel of Fortune.

Riding with Granny made me a quick study in how people think they have their own driving rules.

It also helped me learn to be extra cautious anytime I was behind the wheel. One could not assume just because there were traffic signs clearly posted that people would follow abide by them.

It’s difficult for people to know what to do when the road is straight but add in something a little out of the ordinary and it really throws people for a loop.

I noticed this one evening as I sat at the red light. Not just any red light, mind you. But a red light that went around the court house situated in the middle of the square, meaning the traffic making a left around the court house was supposed to be yield to the oncoming traffic if there was not an arrow.

People, if they follow the rules, would not go if there was a car coming.

But people are much like my grandmother and do not follow the rules.

One car failed to yield and went through the light right in front of an oncoming car – a car that had the right of way.

Thankfully, the oncoming car was able to stop in the nick of time so the car could go on its way. Two more cars went behind the offending car, as if they saw one car break the rules and they wanted to break the rules, too.

The driver of the oncoming car shook his head when he was finally able to move.

“That was almost a wreck,” Cole observed from the passenger seat.

“Yup,” I agreed.

“Is it really that difficult for people to know they aren’t supposed to go?” he asked.

I wondered.

It happens at this light daily.

Some people don’t read the sign with the light saying, “left turn yield on green.”

Some read it and don’t care. They are more important than anyone else, at least in their minds, and think they should be allowed to go through the light, so they don’t have any delay in their journey.

Some people were like Granny and just thought the rules were merely humble suggestions.

The very next morning, I sat at the same light, awaiting my turn to yield and make my left turn, when the car behind me blew the horn.

There were cars coming – a steady stream, actually.

But evidently the person behind me was not aware that green meant yield in this situation, not go.

I waited a few seconds more as the traffic flowed.

The car behind me honked again.

I didn’t budge.

Their horn would not intimidate me. I didn’t care how many times they blew it at me.

I sighed.

Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to drive.