One of the biggest daily nuisances out there on our roads today is the ever increasing proliferation of left turn signals on traffic lights. These contraptions don't need to be responsible for motorists gritting their teeth, running red lights, and swearing endlessly. No. If they were used as they were first intended, they would be a happy little aid to the average motorist.
Now, in rush hour traffic where there is going to be nothing but a steady stream of traffic coming from the opposite direction, these signals are your friend. They politely hold everyone else at bay while you get to proceed through the intersection ahead of the oncoming traffic and go on your merry way. This is definitely a major plus. They also go hand in hand with left turn lanes which get all the left-turners out of the way of the other straight-ahead traffic.
Where these left arrow bandits go bad is when they're programmed to abuse their power. You all know what's coming here....the unnecessary RED left turn signal!! It seems that our fearless road barons who make the arbitrary laws and needless bullshit to hamper our driving have decided that in 90% of the intersections where they have positioned one of these traffic signals, that once the initial green arrow/yellow arrow phase has ended, we are too STUPID to know when it is safe to turn left. Whatever happened to what we learned in driver's ed? Remember, didn't it go something like "check both directions for on-coming traffic and then proceed left carefully through the intersection?"
OH NO. Not possible. We're stupid, incompetent, slackjaws who they must think are barely able to pilot our vehicles out of the driveway without hitting Old Lady Henderson next door's barn-lookalike mailbox and dragging it three blocks through the neighborhood!! How could we possibly be able to judge when to turn left at an intersection without some stupid-ass traffic light there to point the direction for us to turn and let us know when to do it? So, we sit there and we sit there as ALL the oncoming traffic passes through the intersection and there's a bare desolate stretch of road in the oncoming lane. Desolate enough that we could herd a tribe of African Pygmies, a couple of 747's, and the aforementioned Old Lady Henderson in her 1942 Packard through there before any other traffic came! But can we turn? Nooooooooo. Its against the law. Its running a red light. We have to wait until the light cycles through again, as our environmentally unfriendly (depending on who you ask, not me though) cars idle away polluting the atmosphere when they could have safely and efficiently whisked us along our way.
The sad result of this (at least here in the Chicago area) is that you get this mutated breed of driver who says "if the person in front of me went, I'm going to go". So the left turn signal has gone yellow and people are still trying to make it through the intersection. One after the other after the other. Not realizing that they are taking off of the precious time that the oncoming straight traffic people have for their green light cycle. They have to sit through the intersection waiting for all of these assholes running the signal to get through. Nevermind the fact that the left turn signal has long since turned red. And the poor people trying to go straight at the intersection have had their time diminished! They can't run the red light as left turners do! Its way more obvious and they'd get nabbed in a heartbeat by any cop who happened to see. Nevermind the fact that I have seen tons of cops witness left turn signal runners and not do a single thing. You can probably guess what I do to left turn signal runners when I'm sitting on the pole at a light; yep, you guessed it. I gun it at them and slow down at the last minute, while honking my horn long and loud. Yep, its childish and immature, but it makes me feel better knowing that maybe it frazzled them enough that they won't pull that stunt again. Its so funny to watch them as they are always on the cell phone, half concentrating on their turn, when this horn blare and car come barreling at them and you can see them jump in their seat. They mouth a few obscenities but they can't really look at you to flip you off because they have to look at where they're turning. Great fun in my opinion.
Sooo what these lights SHOULD DO, if the power-trip city road planners would just reprogram them, is perform their polite little green/yellow arrow duties and let people through the intersection and then .... dah dee dah DAAAH ... just turn off. Thats it!! Turn off, so that the solid green bulb lights up and everyone races forward to go straight and then the left turners can turn when they deem that it is safe and prudent!! I think that (most of us at least) have earned that right!
If anyone in a position to do something about this problem is reading this, do us all a favor. Reprogram these things. Cut down on intersection congestion from left turners being trapped until the next traffic light cycle. Cut down on wasted engine idling and fuel consumption. Cut down on the amount of goverment meddling in our lives!! We're smarter than we look, despite the fact that we voted your sorry asses into office!