A simple idea to reduce intersection crashes

Pilots have a term that they call situational awareness. It means taking the available information and using it to keep track of where you are at all times, among other things. As long as it can be used, the more information the better.

Now let’s switch gears and apply this concept to driving. Think of a large semi-type tractor-trailer. One of those that has two trailers, as long as the law allows. If that truck is going the speed limit, let’s say on any given 35 mph road, think about how long it takes to go through a traffic light.

If the truck enters an intersection on a green light that quickly turns yellow, it will pretty much use up that entire yellow caution light by the time the end of the second trailer makes it through.

Now suppose a small sports car is following the truck and doesn’t see the yellow light until the last second. Being short gives it the worst angle to see the light above the intersection. Sure, you can say the driver of the sports car should slam on the brakes and hope it doesn’t get rear-ended, or he can do what many people would opt to do and continue to follow the truck.

Now let’s say a tall 4×4 pickup has been waiting to turn left in the same intersection and is just waiting for the tractor-trailer to get by. The driver can see the light changing, but if he doesn’t see the short sports car over the hood of his truck, you can imagine the scene. Not pretty.

There is little doubt that the sports car contributed to a likely accident here by choosing to enter the intersection on a yellow light. While that may be true, we can either deal with reality or we can justify everything by theory that may or may not work in the real world.

My wife and I moved here a couple of years ago from a state that had not just a single overhead stop light like the vast majority of ones in the state of Washington, but one on either side of the intersection as well. So, at virtually every single intersection in the state, drivers had not one but three lights to tell them the status of what was going on in front of a semi.

My choice was either move back to that state to have better intersection lighting or write a letter to the editor to try and improve the situation. It’s easier to write the letter.

With communities beginning to install cameras at intersections to catch people running red lights, it seems to be the time to stand up and say something. Instead of installing cameras, they should be installing more lights. This will – tah, dah – improve drivers’ situational awareness. You knew it had to be in here somewhere.

Randy Moore of Arlington is a commercial test pilot that is based at Paine Field and works for a company that builds avionics that, among other things, helps pilots improve their situational awareness. Maybe more importantly, he’s been riding motorcycles for 35 years and doesn’t want you to hit him.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Monday, Jan. 30

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Vivian Dong, the founder of Safe Lynnwood, leads a group of protesters from the future site of a methadone clinic to the nearby Alderwood Boys & Girls Club on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Editorial: Don’t let fear foil answers to opioid, other crises

A methadone clinic and mental health facility deserve communities’ support, not their opposition.

Comment: FDA should fix its ‘one-size-fits-all’ booster advice

For older at-risk adults, more frequent covid boosters may be necessary, but others should wait longer.

Comment: If Republicans want debt fight, Biden shouldn’t wait

He should tell the Treasury secretary not to put off the default date and call Republicans’ bluff.

Comment: Market turmoil may be only way to motivate Congress

What to watch for as parties begin their game of chicken over raising the debt ceiling to avoid default.

Comment: Entitlements offer Trump opening against DeSantis

Trump’s defense of Social Security and Medicare contrast with DeSantis’ past votes to cut benefits.

toon
Editorial cartoons for Sunday, Jan. 29

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Catherine Berwicks loads ballots into a tray after scanning them at the Snohomish County Elections Ballot Processing Center on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 in Everett, Wa.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Editorial: Boot meaningless tax ‘advisory’ measures from ballots

The public needs better transparency on taxes; not an opaque push poll that serves no purpose.

Washington Future Fund
Editorial: Fund could break inequitable cycle of poverty

State version of ‘baby bonds’ would provide capital for low-income young adults’ economic success.

Most Read