|The type of signal in question. The small yellow lights on the bottom flash constantly. All photos by the author.|
As you saw, it's alarming how many people passed that red signal. I, like most people, assumed that drivers almost always stopped for red lights. In my view, the only time someone would flagrantly run a red light in good weather conditions (adequate visibility, etc) is if they were on serious drugs (like PCP or Crystal Meth). So how did I catch several drivers blatantly running a red light in just a 35 minute time frame? Maybe they were all high on Crystal Meth, but I think there's a more plausible explanation.
|The signal at The Oaks even has flashing warning lights in advance to warn drivers of the crosswalk.|
|A close-up of the signal head. The smaller bottom light is yellow and flashes constantly. The middle light is also yellow, and only lights-up when the signal is about to go red.|
|Signs like this reiterate state law to drivers, but a surprising number of drivers still run red pedestrian signals.|
If these types of signals aren't even effective at fire stations, it's clear that they aren't going to be effective at crosswalks either. Most drivers have no intention of running a red light, since they know it can lead to a fine and/or a serious collision. If well-intentioned motorists are consistently running a red light, there's probably something wrong with the signal. Maybe the solution is a HAWK signal, which only lights up when activated (rather than flashing all the time). Or, maybe the solution is a standard green-yellow-red traffic light, which is a form of traffic control that drivers are already used to and normally obey.
In the meantime, I wrote to the Montgomery County Police requesting a red light camera at this signal, and I'm waiting on their response. Hopefully they'll step up enforcement at this crossing, but increased enforcement is only a short-term solution, There needs to be a substantive improvement at this crossing and others like it for the safety of all road users.