Sure gives you reason to pause.  And to consider how thin, even in supposedly advanced societies, is the veneer of civilization. Traffic lights make sense, right.  Maybe not for strict Libertarians, but most of us can accept such restraints, both for the common good and to protect our precious and pricey vehicles.

Consider, for example, what can happen at an intersection when that traffic light stops working.  In no time cars are backing up on all four corners with drivers “desperate” to get across. Stress levels rise, signaled by an impatient blare of horns. Have we reentered a state of nature?  What are the rules now?  Who is supposed to go?  When?

First it’s a stalemate. Then a single vehicle boldly advances into the intersection, quickly followed by others directly behind. That in turn prompts a steady stream from the adjoining lane heading in the opposite direction.  Those stopped along the cross street instantly realize they’ve been outmaneuvered, and they’re not happy.  Why should they be forced to wait?  It’s not fair!

So some pull out into the intersection and prepare to squeeze through the moving line and get across.  Matters have become decidedly dicey.  Now it’s every driver for himself, the advantage going to those with the loudest horns, the most brazen gaining the upper hand over those naturally more hesitant. Courtesies have disappeared, near collisions abound.  Unless a policeman shows up soon to restore order and fairness, that crossroads could easily become a battle zone.

Call it government intervention, call it an infringement on personal liberty but that traffic light needs fixing – fast.

Leave a Reply