Red Light Districts and Stealth Emergency Vehicles


Some thoughts on red light districts … no, not those Red Light Districts! I think most drivers when stopped at a red light, not a stop sign, tend to zone out a bit. Some zone out a little too far and have to be reminded to drive when the light turns green again. This friendly reminder should consist of  a polite touch of the  horn after a reasonable amount of waiting, say four or five seconds. It really doesn’t require a long, loud honk of the klaxon and a wave of the fist, as some motorists believe because, if we’re honest, we’ve all lost track for a second or two. (My favorite is when you’re in a right-turn lane, and the green arrow indicates straight only i.e. no turns while pedestrians cross and some jerk honks at you, or pulls out and around you. What does he want you to do? Run over those folks in the cross walk?)

Some people take advantage of red lights to check up on email or texts and thus often forget to keep an eye on the light. Time for that polite toot to get them back to reality. I figure time spent waiting at red lights is the driver’s. Not that one should ever lose track of the fact they’re at the wheel of a car with the engine running, which means no 80 second naps at those longer lights unless  the car is in park, but a bit of relaxation isn’t all that bad. However a new nuisance has appeared on the streets of my city lately, I call them “Stealth” ambulances or police cars.

Why Stealth you may ask? Simple: because they sneak up behind cars waiting at red lights with just their lights flashingNO SIREN – and when the cars don’t move instantly they then blast a siren or horn causing panic among the drivers who are in a red light state of mind. This is dangerous on a couple of levels; it could cause a driver to panic and proceed foolishly in an effort to get out of the way of the emergency vehicle, or worse cause a heart attack (perhaps in the case of Stealth Ambulances it’s a bit of a make-work project).

Here in the land of unionized everything, but with a strong Essential Services Commission, emergency workers can’t go on strike so I wonder if this nerve-snapping action is a tactic to bring attention to their plight, as if the union stickers on the ambulances and firetrucks wasn’t enough.

I have seen this countless times from the perspective of both driver and pedestrian. The entire thing could be avoided with a little common sense like using the siren as the ambulance or police car approaches a red light induced pack of cars. This would give everyone a heads up and allow time to cautiously clear a lane for the ambulance or police car to get through.

I hope something is done before someone gets hurt or worse.

MeDCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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