Think about how we treat green lights when we turn left, but oncoming traffic also has a green light. We don’t just steer into the cars when the light turns. That green signal means that we are allowed to turn when traffic allows. That is how we should operate when we are driving straight through an intersection, while roads are congested. The law is clear that space for our vehicles has to exist on the other side of the intersection, before we should cross.
Violating this law can result in three points added to a driver’s record. 15 points added in a 24-month period suspends a license. And the Atlanta municipal court lists the fine for obstructing an intersection at just under $200, but fines can vary by district.
Enforcement is a big issue. Dozens of cars can violate the law in a short period at each intersection, so pulling each person over equally and fairly is almost impossible. There is a similar difficulty in enforcing distracted driving laws, though intersection violations are far more obvious.
Local governments have taken a stab at this problem with simple signage and street paint. Some major intersections have a giant, painted X, connecting all four corners, to signify that stopping in that space is forbidden. They also have erected signs saying the same thing. These are relatively cheap ways to educate people, but speed limits are also on signs and we violate those constantly.
The best way to fix this problem is to simply obey the laws and drive with more consideration. We should vow to spread the light by clearing the light — or waiting for space before we crossover.
GRIDLOCK UPDATESDoug Turnbull, the PM drive airborne anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95.5 and AM-750, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smillin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.