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Alonzo Weston

Alonzo Weston

Driving through Downtown last week, I ran a stoplight and a red light.

Ordinarily I’m aware of such important things, like when to stop or not. I see many people don’t have that skill at all and at any time. Some people run stop lights all over town, not just Downtown and on streets that are not that congested.

Several months ago, city officials decided to do a traffic light study Downtown. The study was to see if it was feasible to remove some stop lights in an effort to increase patronage of businesses there. No doubt as a way to save money, too, never mind the fact that such a move would confuse people. It’s similar to a few years ago when the city decided to make former one-way streets two way and two-way streets one way.

A study from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom found that 25% of a driver’s total exposure to air pollutants came from passing through intersections controlled by traffic lights.

What they found from the study was that these intersections had the highest levels of pollution because of the frequent changes in driving conditions.

I still don’t understand that one. You have to or should stop anyway for safety reasons whether a light is there or not.

I don’t think pollution is one of the reasons we removed stop lights Downtown here either.

When I worked Downtown, not a day went by when I did not see someone driving the wrong way on a one-way street or thinking a two-way street is a one-way street. I, myself, have made those mistakes a few times.

According to information from several online sites, there are more than 800 deaths per year nationwide, or two fatal accidents per day, from people running red lights. Add to that, more than 200,000 people are injured each year in accidents involving red-light running.

So is it the stop lights causing the accidents or people ignoring the lights that lead to the accidents?

Stop lights were designed to improve safety. If someone ignores this safety measure, is it the fault of the stop light or the person?

In a recent KCUR online article, it was reported that the Public Works Department had a plan to change out what they felt were unwarranted stop lights. But the plan faced heavy resistance from the city council and residents.

The city will save money but the Public Works Department says that’s not the main reason. They say it’s about following federal traffic guidelines to maintain the city’s traffic standards and create safer road ways.

All I have to say to all of this is, be extremely careful until they get it all worked out.

Change confuses people and confusion is not a panacea for safe driving.

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