Why do so many people race redlight to redlight?

I see it all the time, yesterday it was a trailblazer with a 30 something woman driving, labor day traffic on a 4 lane us highway, she was just about gunning it from the light and staying on the gas until it was time to jam on the brakes for the next redlight, it was gas or brake, no in between. I was in my work truck and was driving slowly and coasting up to the lights. Eventually I ended up passing her because she got stuck behind someone turning. Why can some people not see the bigger picture.

Yesterday I also seen a lady in a vw beetle turn off of a side road and hammer it to the red light which had a line of cars waiting. Just to jam on the brakes and come to a complete stop before going again, Then they were tailgating using the gas and brake to modulate their speed, speed up, brake, drive, speedup, brake repeat…

I happen to wonder if this lady was one who will complain about the price of a brake job and protest, “I just had brakes put on last year!” I have a mechanic friend that tells a story of a grandam coming in 8000 miles after a brake job with worn out pads. There was nothing wrong with the braking system, they were just used alot. He went for a ride with the customer and answered his question.

No its not just women, I often see Billy bad boy in his jacked up doing the same, and sometimes its someone in an old taurus.

That’s just the way some people drive. Some people drive that way because they think it’s fun, some because it feels like they’re getting somewhere faster, some because they have no choice. Spend some time in Southern California traffic and you’ll understand about having no choice.

I grew up in Los Angeles. One of my first jobs as a teen in the 1980’s was at the local Chevron station, evenings and weekends doing oil changes, tires, etc. The owner had a policy, any car with about 25,000 miles we were to check the brakes. About half of the cars we saw were ready for front brakes by 25K. I know brakes are better now than they were 30 years ago, but a good deal of that was the constant stop-n-go. And don’t even think about leaving a safe following distance in front of you. You’ll do nothing but lose ground with all the other cars cutting in front of you.

When I moved to the Seattle area I wondered why no one around here knows how to drive. On the freeways around here the speed signs are a goal, not a limit.

Amen brother,people are clueless at times(cause and effect).Had a D21 Nissan X-CAB Pickup at one time with a manual transmission got rid of it at 114K and the front brakes were probaly 90% good then-Kevin

I’m sure that some people think that I jack rabbit away from lights. But my Accord V6 has decent torque from the start and it only seems that way. I almost always leave everyone else several car lengths behind if I’m first in line. Oh, and their reaction times are slow and worse.

Some just like to drive that way. The guys with the pick ups with the big pipes on just like to hear the pipes rumble. Otherwise why would they even put them on? People that have to deal with the general public should get an hourly stipend like combat pay.

I tend to drive as if my brakes don’t work, letting the car coast if I see a red light a quarter mile ahead, even if I haven’t accelerated to the speed limit yet. Often the light turns green before I get there, and I don’t even have to slow down.
This results in 100k+ brake pad life and amazing gas mileage.
In freeway gridlock, I do my best not to get caught in the inchworm effect. Instead of accelerating to 30 and then braking and repeating over and over, I just let the space in front of me open up and close while driving a steady speed.

I don’t waste time or aggrevate people by accelerating like a slug though. I feel it is one of the most over-rated gas saving tricks out there. I just stop accelerating when I reach a target speed calculated to make the next light green.
Kinetic energy is kinetic energy, the total is the same whether you shot up to that speed or you took all day to get to your cruising speed. The idea that ultra slow acceleration gets you out of having to supply that kinetic enery is as misguided as thinking you’ll pay less for your house if you take out the longest mortgage possible.

My wife from NYCity used to drive like that, slowed down a bit since in the pastoral surroundings, There the mentality is if you see an open space take it, and if someone pulls into the car lengths in front of you you loose!

@B.L.E. I commend you on your driving style!

I’m sure your car thanks you also

It’s too bad there aren’t many more drivers like you

Reminds me of that Seinfeld comedy routine, him wondering about if there is a speed limit for airplanes. Seinfeld: “If there’s no speed limit, why limit the speed you fly at? Why don’t airline pilots just fly the plane as fast as it will go?”

Likewise with driving. A lot of drivers prefer to go as fast as they can go, bowing only by the applicable traffic laws. And there’s no traffic law against zipping as fast as possible from red light to red light, only to then wait. And sometimes these “zippers” actually do make it through the light, when the more moderate drivers have to stop. So there is some advantage to going as fast as you can go. Whether it makes sense, from the point of view of stress on the car, the driver, and other drivers? Don’t know.


Here in Los Angeles, our red light cameras were deactivated several months ago

Since then, I’ve seen some drivers blatantly run red lights when they think they’ll get away with it

Some people don’t seem to bow to any laws

In addition to complaining that their brakes didn’t last very long, these are probably the same people who want to know why they can’t come close to the EPA gas mileage rating for their vehicle. As Tom & Ray like to say, a lot of people do a lot of things independently of the thought process.

Some people simply enjoy driving that way. If they’re not risking the lives of others, no problem.

I never “race red light to red light”, in fact I’ve driven the same routes around the city I live in so often that I have the timings down to a science. I know exactly what speed I need to drive to get to the next light as it’s going green.

But I despise people that seem to meander through life blocking everyone’s progress because they’re “hypermiling”, or because they’re in no vast hurry and think everyone else needs to be like them. I’m not in a frenetic rush all the time, I don’t tailgate, I don’t blast between lights, but I do like to get where I’m going, and I do enjoy ‘spirited’ driving. At least the people fruitlessly racing from light to light like an excited puppy are getting out of my way.

I had one of the slow zombies in front of me (in the fast lane naturally) yesterday. The guy in the other lane was accelerating only slightly faster, so it was like watching two container ships drag race. Finally I managed to get around them, and had to stop at the next red light. (which all of us would have easily made if this person hadn’t been driving well under the speed limit) The guy seemed outraged that I’d managed to pass him and I could see him animatedly telling his passenger (with much hand flailing and glances in my direction) about the delinquent that had managed to slip by, the decline of civilization in general, and how he’d failed in his mission to hold everyone back for their own good. (surmising)

I don’t mind if people don’t feel comfortable driving faster, or want to eke every last MPG out of their vehicle, I just think it’s incredibly selfish to impose your will on the rest of us that may have places to be, or just may enjoy moving at a faster pace than potatoes grow. Here’s a thought: Take a route that doesn’t include highway travel, or at the least, get out of the fast lane.

I wouldn’t want to be the second owner of a vehicle that was always operated this slowly any more than I’d want one that was mercilessly beaten on by a hyperactive teen.


The problem is people have the same right to not be in a hurry, why are you always in a hurry? Some people are not,

@oblivion Around here, most of the traffic lights are no longer on timers. You couldn’t “time the lights” if your life depended on it. They mostly use motion sensors mounted near the lights. They look somewhat like cameras, but aren’t. Other intersections have what is known as a “loop” set into the pavement. You can see where the pavement has been sawed for insertion of the loop of wire that detects a vehicle rolling over it. Once detected by either method, the light will change from the “priority” street to the side street. The only issue I have with the motion sensors is that they become ineffective when it is very foggy, or they are covered with moisture or snow.

Accelerating like the world’s most overweight 18 wheeler has actually been shown to worsen your gas mileage, not optimize it. The increased distance you spend accelerating offsets the better gas mileage you get while accelerating. It’s the area under the curve that counts.
Also, your engine’s thermodynamic efficiency sweet spot is around 50 to 70% full power. Why not accelerate with the engine in it’s sweet spot?

The way some people drive makes as much sense as turning the air conditioner all the way down so they can sleep under a pile of quilts in the summer.

MG McAnick’s comment about many lights no longer being on timers is sadly true. The bigger problem is that most of these sensor triggered lights stop high speed highway traffic. A single stop from 60 mph throws away as much kinetic energy as four stops from 30 mph. I think all highway signals should be timed with priority given to downhill traffic which cannot “use” stored kinetic energy to coast down to a red light. When uphill traffic has to stop, the hill acts as a brake and converts kinetic energy into potential energy, which the next downhill slope returns to the car instead of turning all that kinetic energy into heat.

I worked on avionics equipment. That did not make me into a commercial pilot, but one becomes somewhat oriented to the science involved. When a commercial pilot makes a flight plan (I assume these days it is done via laptop) he has to find an altitude and the optimum winds for best great circle time traded off with fuel efficiency. A large plane takes a great amount of fuel, and fuel costs are of prime importance for airline profitability. So, one flies at the altitude and speed which will give optimum efficiency, compatible with landing slots at the destination.

One of my favorite tales was told by a man who has lived in Muslim nations. He said the first time he left Dubai for NYC, the plane actually went east for a while. Apparently, this is to avoid certain unpleasant folks who like to fire rockets at aircraft. Then, they turned and took a great circle over the Pole to NYC.

One of the avionics company’s produced cockpit controls for TRAINS based on airplane cockpit controls. Every inch of rail is digitalized and the train computer even tells the engineer what speed to go when going up a hill, based on the weight of the consist (entire train.) For maximum fuel efficiency.

Everything is reported to the maintenance headquarters, including the equivalent of OBDII, as far as bearing wear and other stuff.

If the engineer is under the influence of… the central office can tell because he may not be heeding the instructions of his cockpit computer. And, they allegedly can over-ride the controls and bring the train to a halt if something scary is happening in the cabin of the locomotive. For example, someone told me the headquarters might pop a message on the cabin display unit telling the engineer to enter a certain number and if he does not respond within a certain time, it would indicate his performance is impaired. And, if they cannot communicate by radio, this would be grounds to shut it down.

Source: I once wrote an article on this for one of our company’s employees newsletters.

Cars and trucks are a trade-off between engine and transmission design. If you spent too much time accelerating slowly, with the transmission not locked in a higher ratio, or overdrive, you lose efficiency. If you accelerate too fast, you burn too much gas overcoming inertia. Tom and Ray have said the highest efficiency would be when your car locks the transmission in overdrive, no faster, unless there are hills to compensate for.

My 2002 Sienna gets 24 mpg at 70 mph. At 65 mph, it goes up to 26 mpg.

There is a state in Mexico, a very nice, high velocity divided tollway, but speed limit for the entire state is 80 kph, less than 50 mph. I have not been able to calculate my gas mileage because it doesn’t use enough to calculate. I wouldn’t be surprised if that low speed it doesn’t approach 30 mpg or more.

I don’t know if I have ever seen evidence that zippier starts and harder braking impacts tire life, but it certainly seems intuitive that an approach like B.L.E’s will make tires last longer.

Well, the whole idea of driving like a jackwagon is to get somewhere faster. Accelerating into a red light doesn’t get you any closer to your goal. Coasting towards the light, then accelerating as you see the cross-traffic light turn red, does: you enter the intersection the very first instant you legally can, at close to the PSL, and suck out the “hurry up and wait” crowd. Oh, and you scare red-light runners half to death, which is half of what they deserve.

Accelerating to a red is like tailgating the fourth in a line of cars: not just being a jerk–being a stupid jerk!

@WheresRick: I’ve never disputed anyone’s right to go slow if they want to. (hopefully meeting the posted minimum on the highway) Just get over to the right lane if you want to go slow and don’t block everyone that feels comfortable going faster than you.

Probably the same people that laboriously write out a check in front of me at the grocery store…