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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Time issues

Many of our driving frustrations involve time and our real or perceived lack of it.  When drivers express displeasure with others’ driving behavior, it’s often because they are unfairly, illegally, or unnecessarily detaining us.

Whether the irritation stems from slow vehicles detaining long strings of traffic, left-lane rolling roadblocks, drivers who won’t take “free” right turns on red, vehicles not departing quickly when the light changes to green, or some other stymieing act, we all hate to be held-up against our will. 

One defense for this is to not actually be in a hurry.  Try to depart for your destination at a time that allows an extra margin of minutes to get there.  Drivers who won’t dim their high beams will still distract you, and tailgaters may raise your ire, but those who impede your progress should not be an aggravation.

Don’t perceive a lack of time if you really have plenty.  If you are in no real hurry, you should be able to mentally dismiss inevitable delays.  You can take a deep breath and listen to music on the radio while you sit in traffic because you still have plenty of time to get to work or wherever.

I’ll admit that I am still perturbed when hitting several red lights in a row.  But I’m working on such adverse reactions and it’s a lot easier to do if I am not pressed for time.  I consciously practice being at ease during traffic holdups, reminding myself that I’m not in a rush, and that the holdup is minimal and inconsequential.

Actually, stop lights should not be a big deal even if you are pressed for time, since most red light durations are only about one minute, and even the longest ones rarely hold cars for two minutes.  We just have to train ourselves to not perceive a rush and to not resent the delay.

Nevertheless, red lights are seldom welcome, especially if drivers feel they are not timed or regulated properly.  I’ve heard plenty of driver complaints about traffic light timing.

Traffic light timing designed in an office may have shortcomings in the real world.  It seems they should be designed to accommodate the majority of traffic, but often cater immediately to the single pedestrian or vehicle on the cross street.

The light at 25th and Grand Avenue is green for arterial traffic almost perpetually.  But when a vehicle on 25th, the cross street, it triggers the light instantly, stopping arterial traffic.  The same thing happens when a pedestrian there pushes the crossing button.

It might be better from a driver-on-Grand standpoint to delay the vehicle or pedestrian on the smaller cross street for 30 seconds or more before triggering the green light.  That way, drivers on the busy arterial would have additional time to recognize them, and it would allow for the possibility of a subsequently arriving vehicle or pedestrian on 25th to both cross on the same green light, stopping arterial traffic only once.

Better planning before heading out is a good way to avoid real time issues during drives. If you are short of time, avoid blaming other drivers and traffic conditions for it.  Simply choosing an alternate route when encountering aggravating/unsafe driving locations and situation is a stress-reliever I like to practice.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at