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Beating environmental concerns of red holes against safe street advocates

A red traffic light is seen near the US Capitol in Washington, DC on February 1, 2020.

A red traffic light is seen near the US Capitol in Washington, DC on February 1, 2020.
image: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP (beautiful pictures)

“See this here? He is turning right red. It is America’s only contribution to Western civilization,” Jeremy Clarkson once said in an episode of Top gear. Maybe he’s right. Red light is a uniquely American driving style with an interesting twist in our energy-saving efforts. But some people would like to see red-red-white-green-blue turning signals broken in the perfectly legitimate name of public safety.

Cities across the country started allowing drivers to turn right on red roads in the 1970s as a way to save gas during the Oil Crisis, and it really worked, at least according to Energy Kit:

Before the 1970s, some states allowed motorists to turn right at red lights, but many other states – especially in the eastern half of the country – did not. Then, pump prices (and gas distribution) skyrocketed during the Oil Crisis of 1973 and the Energy Crisis of 1979. During those years, fuel costs skyrocketed along with a tough economic situation. make people more aware of their energy use on a national level. Policies like these are becoming more common across the country.


Experts at UPS are also learning the secrets of fuel economy. Large package moving companies require their drivers to turn right whenever possible and map out their routes accordingly. In one 2008 interviewa UPS spokesman told Boston Globe that UPS drivers “are trained to map their routes to turn right whenever possible, [which] Save fuel and reduce emissions by minimizing the time our trucks are idling. And it’s also safer, because you don’t have to cross traffic.”

Our friends at StreetBlog take a different approach to this history:

Rights on red are now illegal in most of Europe, and they were also banned throughout the US prior to the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which the authors suggested could cut the amount of emissions and fuel use by enabling them. By law, states still can’t get federal funding from what’s now known as the State Energy Program unless they allow drivers to go against traffic lights – despite the fact that the program This program that once helped states create sweeping energy conservation plans is now largely used to weather buildings and isn’t even managed by the Department of Transportation.


Even so, even before electric supercars became Americans’ favorite way to go, the red right lane was still unsafe for vulnerable road users. Since 1982, researchers have was found that the law increased cyclist crashes involving right-turning vehicles at signalled intersections by up to 82% in some states, while also causing collisions for cyclists. walk in those conditions. more than double in others.


… opponents of the proposed new law declared the council “missing data” To prove that full People were saved from death and serious injuries to justify implementing reforms across the county. Find that less than 1% of fatal crashes and injuries on U.S. roads involve redline rights – even though 22% of those crashes involve cyclists or pedestrians and the person is injured 93% of the time, let alone harassment the impact of near misses is not recorded in federal statistics and can lead to visitors fear calendar does not use active transportation at all.

While newer cars are either EVs or equipped with fuel-efficient stop-start technology, that certainly doesn’t apply to the vast majority of vehicles on US roads, especially as the age goes on. fleet average continues. tick above. Turning on the right red can still be an important tool in our fight to cut carbon emissions and save money on volatility gas pricebut safety advocates say turning right on red needs to stop to save lives.

And they’re not wrong! Pedestrian deaths are skyrocketing, with 2021 reaching a 4-year high of 7,485 pedestrians. Of course, not all of this was at red lights, but some did. As the means of transport increase in both their body size and blind spot, pedestrians are at more risk than ever. Washington DC City Council may ban this activity outright after unanimous approval Safer Intersections Act and safe street advocates hope it can serve as frame work for cities across the country once again.

However, there are many things to consider here. How much carbon or pollution would be caused by cars still needing to stop at stop lights and how could that lead to an increased risk of cancer and other health problems? Can lives or a significant amount of time be lost due to congestion problems where turning right when a red light is currently blocking and, if turning right at a red light will result in a fine, how is this penalty? can the reduction be even for richer drivers as it is poorer city dwellers?

As Ned Flanders would say, this is a dilution of a pickle. Sound off in the comments: would you rather live to walk another day or get through a red light faster to save the planet?


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