So, Why All the Fuss?

            Why do we need all of these traffic rules? Your license proves that you know how to drive, right? You might say, “If I spend all of my time worrying about rules, I won’t focus on my driving. That’s dangerous, isn’t it?”

        You might think those are valid points, but here is the reality. We have rules in all aspects of life because human nature leads many people to do what benefits them and them only. If breaking some rules is part of that process, then no big deal; that’s how some people think, but they’re dead wrong. It is absolutely essential that we all operate from one basic set of standards. That way, you know what you are supposed to do when driving; more importantly, you know what other drivers are supposed to do as well. Let’s return to our chaotic scenario you thought about at the beginning of the course. How safe would our streets be if every driver, cyclist, and pedestrian were just told to be safe on the roads? No instructions for how fast to drive or which side of the road to drive on. No instruction for what to do at an intersection when you arrive at the same time as another driver. No information about what to do if an ambulance is approaching from behind with lights flashing and siren blaring.

        Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about this because you know what the law requires. So with everyone operating their vehicles based on those traffic laws, we have consistency. We have predictability. You know when another driver should allow you to proceed first. You know if it is dangerous and prohibited to pass a slower vehicle in certain areas. You know how to safely change lanes at high speeds on a freeway. Traffic flows smoothly, crashes are kept to a minimum, and pedestrians can walk safely along the side of the road without fearing for their lives.

         Let’s switch gears a little and think of things in different terms. What if you owned a business and your training program was simply, “Welcome to the team! We make medical devices. We don’t really have any set guidelines. Just make them the way you feel is best.”

        How long would you be in business? Would you want to be a patient who relies on one of those devices to survive? We think not.

         How about some football? The team huddles up and the quarterback says, “OK, we need to advance the ball ten yards. Everybody do what you think will help us get that yardage.”

           Well, somebody has to end up in last place. I think we found that team.

       We have traffic laws – and the consequences that come with violating them –  because there are drivers who don’t like to be told what to do. If you meet drivers like that on the road, you may not be able to anticipate their moves. If they obey the traffic laws, you will

        Why do you think road signs are where they are? How about speed limit signs or solid yellow lines? Why are there traffic signals at intersections and railroad crossings?


Because drivers need direction and instruction.

You need to know the contents of your Florida Driver’s Manual inside and out. The material in the manual tells you how to drive according to Florida traffic laws. But remember that you have some help to do this. All of the signs and lights and painted lines are there to guide you. You need to know what they mean, but in the case of signs, it’s pretty obvious… read the sign. How difficult is it to remember the difference between broken and solid pavement lines? How about white and yellow lines? As you become more of an experienced driver, all of this will be second nature because you obey the traffic laws every time you operate a vehicle. So you will focus on your driving and not on trying to remember the rules. Again, if you are licensed, you’ve demonstrated that you know them … that’s how it should be isn’t it?

When it comes to the placement of signs, light signals, and pavement markings, nothing is arbitrary. Consider these factors that help determine the placement of traffic control devices:

  • What is the lighting like on a particular stretch of road?
  • How winding is the road?
  • Is a particular section of road in a densely populated area?
  • Based on statistics, what speed limit is appropriate for this stretch?
  • Are there a lot of driveways where cars will pull into traffic often?
  • Is there a history of crashes in a particular area?
  • Is this a busy, well-traveled intersection?
  • Given the speed limit on this road, is there enough time and space to pass slower vehicles?
  • Should there be a crosswalk here? How about a pedestrian signal?
  • Do we need a sign to warn drivers about the shape of the road ahead?

           These are just a few of the things considered when there are plans to install, remove, or even change traffic control devices.  A great deal of time and planning goes into this process. And it’s never actually complete. Over time, a once-rural area can become densely populated because of the construction of housing developments. A speed limit can be lowered because of the construction of a school or because there were three fatalities on the same curve within two months. An intersection that saw a dozen vehicles pass through in an hour now sees one hundred fifty because a shopping mall went up nearby. The intersection has no traffic lights but now needs them desperately. These are all things that a lot of people work diligently on every day. Their efforts ensure that you and every other driver have the guidance you need to operate safely. That assumes, though, that all drivers appreciate those efforts and respect the guidance they provide. 

            There is an old adage that says, “Rules are meant to be broken.” Don’t fall for it! Stick to the playbook and don’t be embarrassed by it. Be proud that you consider your safety and that of your passengers important enough that you respect the work and guidance of those whose job it is to help us keep our streets and highways safe.

Tranducir or Translate »