Traffic Laws That Make Some Sense (For a Change)

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Virginia – home of the dumbed-down “reckless driving” statute (drive faster than 20 MPH over any speed limit and you qualify; see here) has actually done something sensible for once, with regard to its traffic laws.yellow light lead

Flashing yellow “proceed when clear” signals are replacing Thou Must Sit And Wait red lights at left turn lanes. This means that when it’s safe to do so, you may legally make your left turn at any time. Previously, you were required to wait – and wait – until you got the often all-too-brief green arrow. If you didn’t make it to the green in time, it was time to wait for the next cycle. Even if there was no reason – other than it being against the law – to turn left when the light was red.

Somehow, a non-Clover prevailed over the Clovers – and, behold! Traffic flows. There are fewer delays at signals, because cars don’t stack up as much. And the most deliciously insidious bennie – and here I really ought to shut my mouth – is that this flashing yellow business openly encourages (gasp!) the exercise of initiative and individual judgment. It nudges people in the direction of paying attention.

This is a dagger pointed at the black heart of Cloverism, which demands rigid – mindless – obedience to “the law” (whether the law in question makes any sense or not).

Like the law that demands drivers sit at interminably red lights at 2 in the morning, when it’s obvious there are no other cars within a quarter-mile of the intersection (except, perhaps, the lurking cop car waiting with its lights off for someone to exercise initiative and judgment).

If the “proceed when clear” standard takes root, Cloverism may be undone. All the shibboleths – that mayhem (Oh, the humanity!) will ensue if people are trusted to exercise judgment; if they are trusted at all – will be exposed for the frauds sensible people already know them to be. Like the fraud that – for years – was used to deny honest citizens their right to carry a concealed weapon. Clovers shrieked like estrogenated banshees that there’d be raging gun battles in the streets; that “gun violence” would erupt uncontrollably once guns were no longer “controlled.” This did not happen. In fact, the reverse happened. Wherever laws forbidding concealed carry were relaxed, there was less rather than more “gun crime.”

It turns out that most people are sensible and can be trusted – and not just with guns.

Said sensible people understand that there is no reason – other than Clover’s presumption of general ineptitude, possibly extrapolated from his own self-appraisal – for a competent driver, who has functioning eyes, to stop and stand idle, wasting time and gas waiting for a mindless signal to tell him what his mind already knows.

That it’s safe to right on red pic

And if left turn lanes (where a driver is crossing against traffic) can be managed with “proceed when clear” flashing yellows, the same principle could be – should be – applied to right turn lanes, which merely involve merging with the flow of traffic.

And not just that.

Why should it be illegal to not come to a complete stop at a stop sign, when there’s no reason to stop completely (other than it being “against the law”)? If there are no other cars waiting at opposing stop signs, if there is no cross traffic bearing down, it does not make sense to bring one’s vehicle to a complete stop before proceeding. It wastes time, it wastes gas, it increases wear and tear on your vehicle. Stopping completely only makes sense if there are other cars present. Often, there are not. In which case, stopping completely is as absurd as idling away in a left turn lane waiting for an automated signal to tell you it’s ok to proceed.

Drivers should be encouraged to think. To use their eyes (and their brains) and proceed accordingly. Basing traffic laws on passivity and mindless obedience tends to result in … passive and mindlessly obedient drivers (i.e., Clovers). People who sit and stare into space, or diddle on their iPhones, instead of paying attention to what’s going on around them.

Do we want less of that – or more?Clover driver pic

So far, Virginia’s cautious foray away from Cloverism has not resulted in more wrecks. Just as “shall issue” laws making it easier for honest people to carry a gun haven’t resulted in a “wild West” shoot-’em-up. People seem to grok. This is good.

If this most heterodox notion of trusting people to use their heads takes root, who knows what might happen.

No doubt Clovers are anxious.

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  1. Here in Oz (although we drive on the correct side of the road – heh) we don’t have flashing yellow arrows, but at many intersects the green arrow goes out while the main light is green which means you’re still clear to proceed if safe.

    As far as I know, only one State here (NSW) has the “Left on red permitted after stopping” (right on red in the USSA) however, they stupidly banned u-turns at lights unless signage permitted. Seems to be perfectly safe in every other State. Hmm.. I smell revenue.

  2. Saw these in The Woodlands, TX when I was incountry back in Aug/Sept. The poor traffic sign/light manufacturers are having to find novel ways to generate revenue in this New Normal. I wouldn’t want to make the mistake of giving a bureaucrat credit for logic without some smart capitalist finding a way around the bureaucrats “save us from ourselves” mentality.

  3. just read that in Acapulco, Mexico ,the traffic cops went on strike and every one noticed that the gridlock immediately ceased at rush hour…and things kept improving as motorists began treating most stoplights as ‘yield to oncoming traffic signs’.

  4. I have not heard of these flashing yellow lights before just now. They sound like a good idea.

    My question is, have there been any public information efforts to explain them to the dumb masses? If not (or maybe even still) I would bet it will take a while for the 99% of idiots on the road to learn how to adapt to them.

    • Haha! That was the 1st thing that came to my mind, the first time I saw the new flashing yellows! I said “I can just see Jolene and Bubba when confronting such a light- ‘Lookity, Ma, it’s-a-flashin’! Whaddus that mean? I guess it means we can jis go, but we gots to go slow. I’ll jis make the turn; all them oncoming cars’ll have to wait, haw-haw! [BOOOOM!]’ “.

      (I wouldn’t know if they’ve had any public in fo campaigns, ‘cauise i don’t watch TV nor listen to the raddio[sic])

  5. Why should it be illegal to not come to a complete stop at a stop sign, when there’s no reason to stop completely (other than it being “against the law”)?

    Because a Stop Sign means STOP – which is why nearly all Stop Signs should be replaced with Yield Signs. Problem solved but Ticket Revenue would go down.

  6. Here in KY. we just recently got the left flashing yellows, too. I was shocked that they actually had the sanity/decency to do that! It saves so much time when I go to town- because in the past, you could waste 5 minutes at every light, easily, waiting for the green arrow. (You pull up to a full red, it changes just after you get there, and you have to wait for a full cycle- i.e. another red, then green- before you get the stupid arrow. Now, at least, if you miss the green arrow, it changes to flashing yellow after the protected turn period is over, and you can go within seconds. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!

    But the way people drive here…it probably WILL result in more accidents….

    Before the flashing yellows, driving through that little town of 12K people took longer than driving through midtown Manhattan at rush hour!

    Now if they’d just update/apply reason to the bicycle statutes, so that they wouldn’t encourage cyclists to get hit by forcing them to the extreme right when there is no shoulder/room. …..

    • I haven’t seen any flashing yellows yet here in Maryland. What we do have in a few places is flashing reds, which is probably better in this Clover-rich environment. I treat them as yellows anyway.
      Another thing we see here now and then is a “No Left on Red” even when 2 1-way streets are involved.

    • Hi Adrian,


      Clover is a self-named troll (his posts are easy to spot; look for the green “Clover” image) who has been a regular here for several years. He’s a consistent apologist for every/any law – because it’s the law! – and an authoritarian through and through. But what makes him unique is his fragmented/incoherent way of arguing. He serves a useful purpose in this way – as a kind of Exhibit A of the intellectual-philosophical vacuity of collectivism/authoritarianism.

      If you look around the site, you’ll find abundant examples.

  7. Texas has the left on flashing yellow rule, I was pleased to discover when I moved down here in February of ’13. Texas isn’t quite a libertarian paradise, but they got that right, at least. That and the gun laws and the no state income tax. The down side? Really big spiders.

    • Hi Steve,

      If “keep right except to pass” and “yield to faster moving traffic” were generally abided by, we could have unlimited speeds on the highways… as they do in Germany.

  8. Seems like most traffic laws passed lately are designed on purpose to annoy drivers or worse, harass them.

    Used to be traffic engineers were tasked with speeding traffic, today its the opposite. Its a ploy to get us out of cars and into public transit. Unfortunately, public transit in my area isn’t designed for people working for a living and paying taxes, just for the convenience of those on the public dole.

    There also used to be something called common sense. Doesn’t seem very common anymore among the general public and not at all if you “work” in government.

    • Common sense is a greater contradiction in terms than military intelligence.
      BTW, an oxymoron is an intentional contradiction in terms, used as a literary device. It’s not just jumbo shrimp.
      But always remember Will Rogers’ comment on ‘government efficiency,’ – Be thankful you’re not getting all the government you’re paying for.


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