By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Vehicle traffic facing a steady red signal shall stop...and remain standing until a green indication is given.
-- Florida state statute 316.075, subsection III
They say childhood does not prepare us for adulthood. And as usual, they are wrong. Who, after all, can forget our earliest lesson in vehicular etiquette, the children's game called "Red Light, Green Light"? The premise was simple. One kid stood with his back turned and shouted, "Green light!" Everyone else scrambled forward until the kid whirled around and hollered,
"Red light!" at which time players wereto screech to an immediate, grass-stained halt.
Only there was always some schmuck who refused to stop at the red light. No, he (or, more rarely, she) would just barrel ahead a few extra steps, usually bumping some knock-kneed dweeb to the ground for good measure.
One might wonder what ever became of those belligerent chumps -- unless one lives in Miami, where the unrelenting violation of actual traffic signals puts to shame even the most callous playground tomfoolery. It doesn't take much more than a limbic system to discern that in this town, red lights are about as significant as presidential elections. Which is to say, everybody's pretty much aware of them. And pretty much aware they don't mean squat.
Just how bad has the Charge of the
Red Light Brigade become? To answer this pressing question, New Times commissioned a series of ultrascientific observations at different locations around the metropolitan area. A highly trained reporter/traffic analyst was enlisted, along with one Casio stopwatch, and one test vehicle, a semi-insured 1981 Toyota Corolla.
Survey Site #1
Observation post established at northeast corner of South Dixie Highway and SW 27th Avenue intersection. Twenty ensuing light changes, from 8:14 to 9:00 a.m. were recorded. Relevant data accumulated and tabulated:
Average number of cars running red light (per light change): 6.16
Average amount of time (in seconds) intersection illegally occupied (per light change): 6.2
Number of arrests/accidents/fatalities: One fender bender involving generic Japanese compact car and white Peugeot. Police not summoned. Drivers attempt to settle matter through verbal arbitration, until a pack of personal injury lawyers descends and impounds both vehicles to cover legal fees.
Fun fact: At 8:39 a.m., ten seconds after light has turned red, a white Cadillac Coupe de Ville enters intersection. Driver, a large, plum-faced man, is not allowed to turn left through cross traffic. Remains in midintersection until signal turns green, looking like a child relegated to the mush pot during an intense session of "Duck Duck Goose."
Survey Site #2
Observation post established on southeast corner at Ives Dairy Road and Biscayne Boulevard intersection. Fifteen ensuing light changes, from 8:13 to 8:51 a.m., were recorded. Relevant data accumulated and tabulated:
Average number of cars running red light (per light change): 4.94
Average amount of time (in seconds) intersection illegally occupied (per light change): 5.39
Number of arrests/accidents/fatalities: 0
Fun fact: If wind conditions are favorable, traffic accidents are audible from I-95.
Survey Site #3
Observation post established on northeast corner at Kendall Drive and SW 117th Avenue intersection. Seven light changes, from 4:51 to 5:09 p.m., were recorded. Relevant data accumulated and tabulated:
Average number of cars running red light (per light change): 3.1
Average amount of time (in seconds) intersection illegally occupied (per light change): 2.94
Number of arrests/accidents/fatalities: 0
Other phenomena observed: Proximity to Town and Country Shopping Center makes for a convenient trauma-spotting/lunch destination.
Survey in Motion (Phase I)
Traffic analyst drives test vehicle north on South Dixie Highway from Kendall Drive to downtown Miami during afternoon rush hour, obeying all pertinent traffic laws. Summary:
5:01 p.m.: Analyst proceeds at 35 mph, as per posted limit. Light at SW 62nd Street turns yellow. Observing Florida state statute 316.075, subsection II ("when a yellow signal appears vehicle traffic...shall not enter an intersection"), analyst stops just shy of pedestrian crosswalk. Chevy Cavalier behind test vehicle skids to a halt, swerving into center lane. Driver is corpulent, middle-age woman, accompanied by small, doglike animal. Analyst emerges from test vehicle, flashes official Texas driver's license at surrounding motorists and copies down Chevy's license plate number.
5:09 p.m.: Ambulance siren sounds behind analyst, who moves to nearest curb and slows (as per Florida statute 316.126). Silver Miata behind analyst zips across two lanes and follows emergency vehicle through a series of red lights and out of sight.
5:16 p.m.: Analyst sights large puddle in right-hand lane, three blocks north of McDonald Street, and slows. Yellow convertible whizzes past on left, mouthing the words, "Fuckin' wimp!"
5:19 p.m.: Analyst enters 1-95 driving a judicious 47 mph. Black BMW on analyst's tail roars into adjacent lane. Bumper sticker on BMW reads, "Whoever dies with the most toys wins."
5:24 p.m.: After slowing for yellow light at South Miami Avenue, analyst thinks better of stopping when rearview mirror reveals disturbing close-up of a man in a Fiat, wearing a look of death.
5:26 p.m.: Analyst pulls into New Times parking lot at Biscayne Boulevard and NE Third Street. (Total drive time: 25:07:38.)
Survey in Motion (Phase II)
Analyst travels same route as above, employing Miami Driving Rules. Summary:
5:03 p.m.: Analyst sails through yellow light at SW 58th Street.