The Stoplight Dilemma

Lately most of my brainpower has been occupied by the design of a game I’m working on. As a result, I haven’t had as much to write about on this blog.

However, today I happened to be on my rarely-used OkCupid account, and I remembered that the site has a ton of thought-provoking questions on it (to determine compatibility). From now on, whenever I’m at a loss for a blog topic, I’m going to scroll through the list of OkCupid questions to find one worth writing and conversing about.

Here’s today’s question:

Stoplight-Lineup1It’s 2 AM. While driving home, you stop at an intersection with a red traffic light. After waiting over six minutes, it still hasn’t changed to green. No one seems to be around. What do you do?

Six minutes is an eternity to wait at a stoplight! That’s like two full plays of “Shake It Off”!

In a way, the question is asking, “How far would you go to not break the law?” I consider myself a law-abiding citizen, but at three or four minutes I’m starting to think the light is broken. The stoplight’s job is to create order out of a potentially chaotic and dangerous situation.

If the stoplight stops doing its job, it’s our job to self-regulate, and I think a perfectly reasonable way to do that would be to check to make sure no one is driving perpendicular to the intersection and then drive through.

What would you do?

9 thoughts on “The Stoplight Dilemma”

  1. I would have said I’d go through. However my one and only ticket was as a result of this exact situation. I was not aware that a cop was sitting in a parking lot in full view of the stoplight with no lights on. Now, I will wait it out or get out of the car and hit the crosswalk button. Btw I met my hubby by way of OkCupid, 7 years together, 3 years married and I still have no doubt he truly is my perfect match, so don’t discount it as a way to meet the ‘one’.

    • Sandy: Wow, I can’t believe the cop was waiting for someone to do that! Seems like he/she might have had better things to do than wait for someone to go through a red light on a quiet night.

      That’s really great to hear about you meeting your perfect match on OkCupid! Sorry if I sounded like I discount it–I actually think it’s great, but I just haven’t made time to date in a while.

  2. Since right turn on red is generally legal… You could move to the right lane. Turn right. Then come back and turn right again sending you on your original intended path as a law abiding citizen.

    Truthfully, I’d run the light after 2 minutes.

  3. I would do the chinese fire drill (get out and run around your car at a red light) until it turns green and floor it.

  4. In some european countries they have a law where at certain times of the day the traffic lights at a crossroad flash amber in both directions, this means “Pass if it’s safe to do so” so drivers slow down, check, and cross if it’s clear. It works really well rather than waiting at a red when there’s no one around.
    Jamey in your scenario I’d use this logic – Pass if it’s safe to do so.

    • Gino: Yeah, we have that too–usually that happens when there is construction near an intersection. In this specific scenario, though, the light has been solid red for so long that you’ve probably started to think it’ll never turn green.

      • Oh, I meant to add, I understood the scenario but was just explaining my reasoning behind the decision I’d make. I’d assume it wasn’t going to change and just proceed with caution!


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