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    Compounding Mistakes

    As I was driving home from work the other day the only thing that I could think about was how horrible the lights were timed.  I had noticed it before, and I knew it was annoying, but up until today I had never actually thought about how truly wasteful poor timing on traffic lights is.  As I sat at one red light after another I continued thinking about how poorly timed lights really are a big deal.  Like many things, at first pass it seems like a very silly thing to think about but after thinking on it one comes to realize just how impactful correct traffic light timing is.

    There is the clear waste of time.  This is the one that most people think of as the jump from one red light to another.  The second things many people say is that it wastes gas.  A person might even say it wastes the blacktop as the stopping of large vehicles actually gradually creates ruts and bumps from the tires breaking against the blacktop.  All of these are correct, and were the first things that came to my mind.  But at about the 5th red light I began to realize something else was at play.

    I realized that as I got more and more red lights in a row I was getting more and more frustrated.  Frustrated drivers are much worse for gas mileage than calm drivers.  I can imagine that many other drivers are just as frustrated.  All of that causes a more dangerous overall driving situation for everybody in addition to the additional wear and tear on a car from fast starts and abrupt stops.  Of course it is easy to say that a person should just not drive worse, but that indeed ignores the reality of the condition that we are dealing with humans and emotions must be taken into account when assessing the impact of actions.

    So what we have is one mistake (poor traffic light timing) that leads to other mistakes (poor driving) that then take a situation from frustrating to downright dangerous.  One could even say that yet another mistake that is then made is that people want to occupy all of this down time which leads them to text, surf the radio, or look for a song on their music device.  Again, all of this just adds to the danger of the situation.

    The simple moral is that, as often as you can, you should try to find the source of the problem and start there.  A ban on texting in that stretch won’t solve the issue.  Playing happy music won’t solve the issue.  Only looking at the real problem can the issue be fully addressed.  Addressing the source of the problem solves all of the downstream problems.  This is obvious, but I think it is good to have a reminder every now and again to keep it fresh in your mind.

    Do you let the traffic get to you?

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.

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