Next time you are approaching a junction with traffic lights, ask yourself what a green light means. If your answer is ‘go’, you are only half right! For full marks, you need to remind yourself that a green light at the junction does mean go, but only if it is safe to do so. You also need to ask how long has it been green? The longer it has been green, the sooner it will change to amber. Amber doesn’t mean ‘speed up to get through the lights before they change’. It means stop. And after amber, the lights always go red.
These days, especially with congestion, more drivers are prepared to risk an amber light (known as ‘amber gamblers’), or even a red light to get through a junction. That in turn means that we need to use an extra defensive driving technique. Even though the lights are ‘with you’, always glance both ways as you approach the junction, to satisfy yourself that you can get across safely. By taking a moment to look both ways, even when the light is green, you might be able to spot somebody who is prepared to risk their safety – and yours – by ignoring the traffic signals.
And even if the light is green in your favour, keep using your rear mirror. It may be that somebody is following you too closely, in which case, by spotting the that the green light is about to turn amber in good time, you can slow down early, brake more gently and reduce the chances of a collision from behind. All traffic lights are set according to the speed zones in which they are placed. If you are doing the correct speed limit, you will have adequate time to stop at an amber light.
By IAM RoadSmart - driving tip 35, 29th August 2008
Disclaimer: Driving is never a black and white activity, but full of grey areas, therefore neither I nor my fellow Observers in the St Helens & District Group of Advanced Motorists are liable for any consequences you may experience as a result of reading our advice. You are the driver. You should be in control of your vehicle at all times.