I remember running a red light when I was 16 years old. Right as I gunned it in my Honda Accord V-6, my friend and passenger, also 16, muttered something I’ll never forget. “Man, I try to never run a red,” he said. “You can kill someone out there. Or, you can get killed.”
As my grip on the steering wheel tightened, I remember thinking how mature my friend’s statement was for his age. Truth be told, it’s a bit of a no-brainer. But still, I began seeing with clarity how profound that little piece of advice was.
As Gov. Crist signed a recent bill allowing Florida to used red light camera on its state roads, I find it easy to remember my friend’s advice and applaud him for his forward-thinking drive. If this bill does anything, perhaps it’ll get Florida drivers to realize seeing red can mean life or death.
I used to live in Miami, where there’s little to no adherence to traffic laws. As a driver, it was basically a catch-22: right as the light turned from red to green, you were either suppose to gun it within a quarter-second of the light change, or face an onslaught of honks from the drivers behind you as you waited to confirm it was clear to proceed.
Me, I always remembered my friend’s voice. There’s a fair chance someone would run a red light at an intersection, especially in Miami. Because of that, I always wait a second or two — face the torrent of honks of drivers who felt a two-second wait was the equivalent of an eternity — and look left and right before I accelerate forward.
Even though I lost touch with that friend after we graduated high school, I sincerely and subconscious thank him every time I’m behind the wheel. A lot of people don’t give any credit to young drivers; In this case, I give him all the credit he deserves.