Red Lights: The Choice to Stop Should be YOURS

By Taffy Santangelo

I have a friend who knows someone who stopped at a red light and was hit from behind by a speeding motorist and seriously injured.  It has been on my mind a lot, and it’s pretty clear that there is a definite correlation between designated stops and serious injuries. And for that reason I have made my choice as a citizen to protect my children and myself and urge others to say "no" to red lights and stop signs.

I am not a lawbreaker. All my life, I have dutifully stopped where it was indicated and pulled over for fire engines and police. I use my turn indicator and click my seatbelt and monitor my tire pressure. But after reading the statistics (did you know that 20% of people involved in rear-end collisions ended up with whiplash and phone laceration injuries?) regarding accidents at red lights or stop signs, the first choice for safety is to glance both ways and drive through without slowing.

So last Thursday I made a decision and did just that, and I can’t believe that a cop pulled me over and wrote me a $575 ticket.   The whole time that he was checking for outstanding warrants, I wondered if this officer had children himself, and if they were as pretty and worth protecting as my own. I wondered if this policeman has ever had to roll up on a rear end collision at a red light and witness first hand the carnage of someone who was minding his own business, checking e-mails or reorganizing his wallet and in a split second--WHAM! his spine looks like an L-wrench. It is a travesty for the city to be paying these officers for what amounts to government sanctioned extortion and is, I believe, unconstitutional.

How many children must be injured or killed before citizens understand that they should have the right to stand up to power and choose whether to stop at a red light or not.  The Founding Fathers never had this in mind when they defined freedom as the pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and there were no stop lights on Paul Revere's ride, thank you very much.

Had I stopped, I could easily have been hit from behind and my children injured. I exercised my best judgment and made a choice not to “obey” the light because it is my duty to protect my family (both my toddlers were in the car).  Now I am being punished by the state for exercising my right to choose not to jeopardize my family by stopping at a light where it has been widely reported that three people had been hit there in just the last four years. I was actually told that if I didn’t stop where it was "designated by light or sign," they would take away my license first and then my car! What kind of a police state do we live in?

Simply put, the government needs to keep out of my life and allow me the right to my own choices. The manufacturers of these stop signs and red lights are clearly profiting from this oppressive law, and their products have little to do with real safety.  I wonder: how many of them are paying off lawmakers to keep this ridiculous and frivolous system in place?

I urge that this punitive and Orwellian law requiring stopping at red lights and stop signs be repealed immediately. I know many other parents feel the same way.  Rise up. Take to the streets.  Think of the children.

Taffy Santangelo is a candidate for president of the Sausalito Homeowners Association and a community activist.


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