Traffic Question 14: A traffic light turns yellow and you’re not quite going to make it through before it turns red... what do you do?


Traffic Question 14:

A traffic light turns yellow and you’re not quite going to make it through before it turns red... what do you do?

  1. Stomp on the gas pedal and zoom through
  2. Continue through the intersection without any change in speed
  3. Wait until the last second and then stomp on the brake
  4. Start coming to a gradual stop immediately
  5. None of the above

Moliner's Answer:

A. Stomp on the gas pedal

That way we will beat the “red” by a mile.

Conventional Answer

D. Start stopping immediately

This is the “safe” answer, so we’ll go with it.

I think stomping on the gas is really what people’s first instinct is. There are several things that don’t quite mesh if you think about them.

  • Yes, you will be going faster, but it takes too long to accelerate, so it doesn’t really make much difference. (You are likely saving less than 1 second; see image.)
  • Whatever speed you get up to... if it makes any real difference, you're likely to be significantly over the speed limit.
  • You are crossing several more sight lines, so it is that much more likely for a police officer to see you.
  • Is it really safe to go through an intersection at twice the speed limit?

For more information about signal timing, see the Signal Timing Manual (section 4) at www.signaltiming.com.