By Jeffery Hunt
Whether it is 2 a.m. and no traffic or 5 p.m. and with cars bumper to bumper, traffic laws require drivers to wait for a green light before proceeding at an intersection. Some BYU students think being on an empty road late at night overrules the law.
Tyson Thomas, a junior from Boise, Idaho, said circumstances dictate his actions.
“If I”m on a donut run at 2 a.m. I see no need to run the light,” Thomas said. “Even if I”m the only car waiting. But if I my roommate falls and breaks his leg, it”s an emergency. I”m driving him to the hospital. I choose the broken leg over the broken law.”
Thomas said it can sometimes be safe to run red lights, but a standardized law creates consistency and simplicity.
“Where would you draw the line? Three o”clock, 4:30 in the morning?” Thomas said. “At what time would you say it”s okay to run red lights? You”ve got to have things universal.”
According to Thomas, if a driver runs a red light when no other cars are in view, he or she should be cited.
“You”ve got to enforce in this situation, especially if its not an emergency, you must enforce,” Thomas said. “Otherwise, step by step, things will get worse.”
Jamie Church, a senior from Porterville, Calif., said if it”s late and safe to run the light, then it is okay to do it.
“I stop, look both ways and if I don”t see a car, I run the light,” she said. “It”s all about the spirit of the law, not the letter.”
Glen Sanders, a junior from Boise, majoring in accounting, said obeying the law is more than a safety issue — it”s an integrity issue.
“Running the light isn”t okay when no one is watching,” Sanders said. “It”s when nobody is watching that it really counts.”
Sanders hopes his personal integrity will keep him as honest in his driving as in his bookkeeping. To this date, he has never been issued a moving violation.
“The law has been decreed,” Sanders said. “It”s not up to us to place and retract the laws at our convenience.”
Lt. Greg DuVall of the Provo Police Department said officers are free to use their discretion when issuing citations to drivers running red lights.
He said there are times at night when a driver may wait at a stop light a while without seeing a passing car or a green light.
DuVall once waited several minutes for a light to change, but his motorcycle would not trip the traffic sensor.
“After waiting, I saw it was safe and went through the intersection,” he said.
He said he violated the law and would accept responsibility if pulled over.
When stopped, DuVall does not tell other police officers his profession.
“I figure I”m game just like anyone else,” he said. “I just hope the officer would”ve believed my story.”
Setting aside the rare, late night exception, DuVall cautioned road users.
“We are better off to obey all the time so we don”t fall into bad habits,” he said. “It”s that one day, one time, one bad habit is all it takes and we cause a bad accident.”