Rampant running of red lights gets real

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On the thing with the red lights: At first I thought it was just in my head.

I spend a lot of time in the car: delivering papers, driving to meetings, picking up and depositing children, sometimes just driving around smoking and listening to James Booker with the windows down and the sunroof open.

A couple weeks ago I first noticed it: A motorist on Battleground Avenue in Greensboro blew through an intersection well after the light had changed. At the time I just registered it as just another distracted A-hole who was looking at a phone screen instead of the road. But later that day I saw a driver commit the same infraction again on Piedmont Parkway.

It kept happening: a driver on Wendover Avenue and another on South Elm-Eugene Street. Last week I saw a chain of three cars run a red light on Murrow Boulevard. And when I told my wife about it later that day, she said she has been seeing similar actions on Holden Road and West Market Street.

Weird.

And then it got real. I saw a random Facebook post from Greensboro complaining about red-light runners in the city. I swear it made me shudder just a little.

Now, my training is in journalism and sociology, so I know that just because I’ve started noticing something doesn’t mean it just started happening. And running the intersection is something that people have been doing for as long as there have been stoplights. I know a guy from Texas (of course) who just completely ignores red lights altogether. Sometimes he doesn’t even slow down.

But my anecdotal evidence tells me that something is afoot when it comes to red lights and their authority over drivers. Maybe it’s a symptom of resistance against our government, or maybe it’s the product of those members of our entitled society who feel that the rules apply only to others. Or maybe it’s just people looking at their phones.

I’m going to keep my eyes open on this one. More reporting is needed.

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