As a Model T driver, the biggest problem I have with main-drag boulevards is yellow traffic lights. -In well over a century of automotive endeavor, drivers of both antique and modern cars still don't know what to do when the light turns yellow. C'mon, you know it's true.
The main drag in my neck of the woods is Jericho Turnpike which runs two lanes in both directions. That’s good, because I can use the “slow lane,” and for whomever my Model T Ford's languid speed is insufficient, the passing lane is available. -This works great right up to the point where the green traffic light turns yellow at precisely the wrong moment. -With insufficient power to accelerate and beat the red, and rear-wheel brakes that are barely adequate, there remains but a split-second interval in which to decide what to do—and hesitation can screw up the situation, but good.
Now, sometimes, when the green light turns yellow, I make the wrong call and find myself committed to a screeching, rubber-peeling panic stop, with the accompanying risk of getting rear-ended by an SUV driver possessed of the expectation that I’ll just kick in the afterburners and blast through the intersection like anyone else. -Last time I employed that braking technique, my car came to rest with too much of its proboscis sticking out past the cross-walk and, courtesy of the cellphone-texting, hat-backwards, amateur proctologist nuzzling at my oil-lamp, no room behind to back up and allow cross-traffic to get through the intersection.
I have Rocky Mountain brakes on my 1915 Ford which are capable of locking up the rear wheels at any sane speed, but no matter how effective those two big brake-drums are at stopping the wheels from spinning, those skinny tires only have about the same footprint as a shot-glass and so, very little traction compared to a modern car. -If then, my braking capability diminishes sharply at speeds above 30 mph—and it does—that means 30 mph is the maximum speed ANY brass-car driver should be using when approaching a green traffic light (because most other brass cars with rear-wheel brakes only are usually heavier than a Model T and take an even longer distance to stop).
Even so, we all know that driving at a perfectly legal 30 mph in a 40-mile zone, in a car that rides on wooden spokes and Schwinn-sized tires, and has negligible doors, no crumple zones, no collapsible steering column, no air-bags, shoulder harnesses or even bumpers, probably isn’t the very safest thing we could be doing. -The unavoidable truth is, there’s an element of danger associated with driving a car that was designed during the Brass-Era.
And that brings to mind the long ago days when I could afford to fly airplanes, and we dauntless knights of the wild blue would throw around the term, “risk management.” -In those two simple words resided the acknowledgement that playing it 100% safe 100% of the time made for a life not worth living, and for a pilot to perish by means of slipping and falling in a bathtub would be ignominious in the extreme. -The opinion of life-insurance companies notwithstanding, we intrepid airmen set about the business of setting down guidelines, official and otherwise, intended to allow us to slip the surly bonds of Earth with a reasonable expectation of reuniting, consciously, with loved ones that evening. -It was sort of a have-your-cake-and-eat-it thing.
And so, nowadays, in an effort to delude myself into believing that safety can be fun, I’ve made it part of my brass-motoring adventures to take out a Rand-McNally street map (which can be purchased at your local Staples) and pre-plan my excursions so as to make maximal use of back-roads. -A stop sign, after all, leaves absolutely no doubt as to what drivers are supposed to do before proceeding across the intersection, and the guy behind isn't surprised when I come to a full stop.
Funny thing, though: When I occasionally pull over on these back-streets to let a faster car behind pass by, he’ll likely as not also pull over so as to remain aft and enjoy the rare and interesting sight of an operating, century-old automobile. -I sure do wish there were more of this type on the big boulevards.
Not surprisingly, I get lost a lot when taking the back-roads and that’s when 21st-Century, GPS technology proves to be quite compatible with Brass-Era motoring. -I suppose the best way to cover significant distances would be en masse, with an organized tour, but there’s not much of that going on in my immediate neck of the woods, so as a rule, I just grab a map, fire up the Garmin and strike out on my own.
Your back may have suffered some, but it is nice to read that your literary powers are still uninjured, alive & well.
Merry Christmas to you & yours.
When I flew (US ARMY flying club in Fairbanks Ak.) my Instructor had two cliche's 1) There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots. 2.)I can put a box of rocks in that seat for 40 hrs. doesn't mean the box of rocks will become a pilot! The yellow light is timed, it stays on for 1 second for every 10 MPH of speed limit i.e. in a 45 mph speed zone the yellow light will stay active for 4 1/2 seconds than all reds stay active for 2 seconds then the new direction of travel activates green. the yellow light lets you know how many seconds you have to clear the intersection before the new direction is allowed to proceed, If you are not able to clear the intersection in that time you are required to stop. The preceding was explained to me by Judge Roy Hendry Tampa Fl. Please don't ask why he felt it necessary to explain that to me.
I try to use my training in risk management from the local nuclear power plant where I worked for 32+ years when approaching any stop light. Is it riskier to speedup or slam on the brakes when the light changes to yellow.
Green means GO
Red means STOP
Yellow means GO FASTER!
BWAH HA HA!
Bob C, I do hope (very much) that your back issues improve wonderfully in the coming months and year. I miss your funny hats postings, as I know many others here do also. I also very much enjoy your elaborate musings.
Thank you, and get better soon!
G R Cheshire, That may be so in sunny Florida, however, in sunny Califunny, one can NEVER count on traffic signals behaving in any predictable manner based upon any other traffic light. In the thirteen years we have been in this house, a nearby signal I have to go through almost every day is STILL a guessing game on how it will behave. Some incompetent local yokel keeps trying different ideas and making different mistakes causing all sorts of backup issues.
Beyond the local incompetent, all local jurisdictions and the many various state agencies all do their own thing their own way.
Gotta love Califunny.
You can't rely on the timing of yellow lights especially where they have installed those rediculous red light cameras. In Florida where I live they installed the cameras and then shortened the time the light stays yellow. The result is that they are making money issuing tickets and increasing the number of rear end collisions. A clear win, win for the municipality and the auto body shops!
We have 11 stop lights on the main drag thru my town (about a 2 mile stretch of state highway). The timing is set so that if you are driving the posted speed limit and catch the first light green, you can drive clear thru town without catching a red light. Saves time a shift change.
Hi Bob , I am planning a tour for next summer in Southampton ( 30 mph max) and would be more than willing to facilitate your participation for this event! I could trailer your car out the day before and then back to your place the following day. If this sounds interesting we can talk about it when you have time.
Luckily most of the traffic lights in Rochester have a screen that visibly counts down to stop. However, there can be a lag of three seconds after it gets to stop ... or go to stop immediately. Also, there is a strange clanking sound emitted from them to let the blind know it’s not a safe time to cross. For the model T owner waiting at the light it makes one wonder what’s come loose in the engine.
Val; That's why in Jacksonville we elected a Sheriff who got rid of them traffic light cameras! Good riddance!
Bob C. - As usual, another fine piece of writing! Hope your back "issues" continue to steadily improve Bob, but one thing's sure,...if your health issues ever become such that your physical activity becomes limited to an unacceptable degree, you'll always do just fine as a writer!
Wayne S. - This is slightly off-topic, however, you have come very close to a real "pet-peeve" of mine Wayne,......school zone speed restrictions! Within a five-mile radius of where I live, here in the much too populated Seattle/Tacoma area, I can show you at least five (5) entirely different sets of posted "regulations" which dictate the legal manner in which to negotiate each of those particular school zones. And it's not that I'm so irritated with the driving inconvenience in having to slow down to 20 mph; in fact, that's about the ONLY consistent feature of these different school zones. It's the fact that this inconsistancy situation of the other restrictions besides speed, is, in my opinion, a real danger to the children that the restrictions are designed to protect!
Here's what I mean:
When driving thru' a school zone, I should be mainly focused upon watching for one or more children that may dart out in front of me from between parked cars, chasing their soccer ball or baseball, or each other, etc., etc! And my full visual and mental attention should be devoted to just that,....watching for kids,...."NOT" checking my watch or cell phone to determine if it's "between the hours of 3:00pm to 7:00pm, or if "sunset" is considered "during daylight hours", or what day of the week it is (school day or weekend), or watching to see if other warning lights are flashing, etc, etc.!!!
And really "DUMB" is the posted warning that specifies,...."WHEN CHILDREN ARE PRESENT"! Well, as the kids would say,....."well daaaa!!! That's what I should be 100% focused on,...."whether or not children are present"! Not all the other distracting gibberish you have to read!!!
Okay,.....end of rant,....except to say that some of these do-nothing local politicians, instead instead of sticking their noses into everybody personal lives where they don't belong, they should be doing something to help "STANDARDIZE" all these different school zone restrictions so that all drivers instantly know how to legally and safely proceed through a school zone without being distracted by the fact that drivers have to figure out if the restrictions apply to them at that particular time of day, day of week, whether it's a holiday or not, whether there are other lights flashing, etc, etc, etc!
Okay,...really this time,....end or rant,.....sorry,......harold
Well shoot! I did say,...."end of rant", but I forgot one other important point that applies to this "unsafe for children" situation:
We now have, in this country (and this could be another rant, but I won't) many thousands of drivers who barely (if at all) speak or read English! Not only are they NOT reading all that posted school zone gibberish (because they can't) they are some of the worst ones to distract, because as we all know, some of them are some of the worst drivers!!!
Okay,....that's it! Enough! Honest,.....harold
Not only that Harold but they are either uninsured or under insured so the rest of us have to pay outrageous premiums to protect ourselves from them!
......see,....I actually can be "BRIEF",.....but it doesn't happen very often! (:^)
What about the flashing school zone lights that flash ALL the time including 3 am and holidays? Here they even put up speed radar signs that flash red and blue when you drive the posted 35 MPH telling you to slow down any time of day or night.
Hey Harold S! Careful now. You may get the padded cell next to mine!
I worked for the local school district for over six years. You don't WANT to know the stuff those "professional" people did! I wish I had some way to make the whole world know some of the things I saw.
Can you say "Tar and Feathers"?
Brass cars generally don't accelerate quickly enough to manage yellow lights effectively.
Here in Key Largo somebody had the bright idea to put in a cross walk in front of the Wendy's, approximately 1/16th of a mile from the light. At first they tried a flashing yellow light and that didn't seem to work. Next they put in a light that went from yellow to red then flashing red in an attempt to reduce the slowdown on the only road thru town. Of course since the road is divided they have 2 buttons to push.
End result cars blast thru the yellow as long as they can then stop when they absolutely must. And then at a flashing red they remain stopped until it turns off. They have a sign stating stop on red, when seems silly to me because the law states you must stop at a red light. Now the double buttons well most pedestrians don't realize there is a second button to push so continue to walk out into the next street. We have an accident at this location at a rate of about 2 per 3 months.
On another note down at a park where they do a single event a year the county had the wisdom that putting in an elevated walkway would help to prevent traffic slowdowns on the couple days a year when tons of people are there. While this might sound like a wise use of a ton of money I step back and think . . . The primary event is a nautical flea market (think swap meet for boats)where people bring wagons and have full loads going home. Personally I would rather wait for a break in the traffic than try to lug all my purchases up 2 stories and back down.
Chadwick A, What are you? Intelligent? (Definitely!) Your uncles and I am sure your mother must be proud of you!