Driving 101: Red Lights

red-lightMost of us were taught very early that red means “stop” but for a few select drivers in Nashville, red lights only mean that traffic could be coming from the other direction.  I had one fellow tailgating me through Belle Meade one day and he was furious that I had stopped at a red light instead of running it.  He jerked his truck around me and sped off when the light changed.

None of us like having to wait at a red light.  The average wait time at a red light is two minutes but it can longer in some areas depending on traffic flow and other factors.

Two minutes seem to be too long for the select drivers in Nashville.  I call them “speeeeecial” and drag out the middle part of that word when I say it.   Impatience is the main reason these special drivers run the red lights.  They do not think THEY have to wait.

A red light is a signal to STOP.  Not speed up.  Not roll through.

When approaching an intersection, you must stop before the pedestrian crosswalk or any markings before the intersection.

The most commonly violated red lights are the ones where traffic is exiting Interstate 40 into downtown.  I can usually count at least two vehicles that completely blow through this light. Nashville could make lots of fine money if they would patrol these areas.   Fines for running a red light range from $50 – $100.

So what constitutes running a red light in Tennessee?

The Tennessee Code Section 55-8-110 (e) states that it is not a violation unless the front tires of a vehicle cross the stop line after the signal is red.    A person commits the violation if their front tires are past the stop line when the light turns red.  A vehicle could be in the center of the intersection when the light turns red and not be subject to a citation.

In many instances I have witnessed, the nose of the car has not even broken the plane of the stop line when the light has already turned red.  Clearly a violation.

People run red lights for various reasons:

  • Impatience
  • Distracted or tired
  • Incorrectly estimating their speed and timing
  • Intoxicated or clouded judgment

Red light runners cause hundreds of deaths and injuries each year.  Most of downtown crashes involved drivers who ran red lights, stop signs and other traffic controls.

It also helps the personal injury law firms stay in business.

Two minutes could make a lot of difference.





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