Dr. Traffic

Road rage? That’s not what Spock would do

Readers have offered a list of suggestions for improving travel in the Charlotte area.
Readers have offered a list of suggestions for improving travel in the Charlotte area. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Some of us are really annoyed by other drivers. And by “us” I actually mean those of you who have written letters to me.

These letters are a healthy way to get rid of frustration –I think– and more productive than dirty hand gestures and enraged screams as you lean on the horn. Tapping on the keyboard awhile has helped some compose thoughtful suggestions for improving traffic flow.

So, no more punitive tailgating. In those heated moments on the road, just ask yourself, “What would Spock do”?

You remember Mr. Spock, right? I so admire the Star Trek first officer, the antithesis of the emotionally flamboyant Capt. James T. Kirk.

Leonard Nimoy’s Spock helps us recognize that calm analysis is a better choice than raw emotion, especially on the road.

I see that same calm sometimes in the notes you have composed to list your pet peeves. Here are a few of those letters. Some of these have been edited for brevity:

One of my biggest beefs and concerns is the rising and obvious blatant running of yellow lights. I was taught that yellow meant to stop, if possible. It did not mean “floor it,” which seems to be the mental action by most younger drivers.

Judd McAdams, Charlotte

Time to rethink and modernize traffic lights. I believe it is the yellow that causes intersection accidents. The length of a yellow light varies from one intersection to another. Drivers have to play a game at every yellow light. Will I make it? Should I floor it? If I slow down now I might get caught in the middle.

I always like coming to an intersection where there is also a ‘walk’ sign that has a countdown in it. It seems to me that if traffic lights had a similar countdown to yellow there would be no excuse for running a light. As it stands now, it is a guessing game as to how much time there is on yellow.

Tom Schmutzler

I often have joked that when a light turns green it should have an audible sound to alert all those drivers who are texting, talking or otherwise engaged/distracted.

Leon Escude

I rarely see anyone moving into the intersection to easily make a U-Turn. Instead, most people try to turn sharply and usually hit the curb on the other side, then back up and delay oncoming traffic. And, if they yield to a right turn, they are just stuck, holding up traffic in the left turn lane and the oncoming traffic.

Moving into the intersection allows one to yield to a right turn, as we are supposed to do. The driver’s ed folks need to teach this. That is, if they ever get back to teaching driver’s ed.

Charles C. Ryder, Charlotte

Polite or plucky?

How would you respond if an officer gave you a traffic ticket? Thanks? Keep it clean, friends and we might publish your comment. Write to drtraffic@charlotteobserver.com and include your name and city or town.

Karen Sullivan: drtraffic@charlotteobserver.com, @Sullivan_kms