First installed in London by a railway engineer in 1868, traffic lights are used in just about every city on the planet today. In the most basic sense, drivers have learned that red means stop, green light means go and that yellow indicates that caution is due as the signal is in the process of change. Even an elementary school child understands that traffic flows through a green and yellow light, but running a red light is not only dangerous, but it is against the law.

Yet China has now rewritten the rules.

On January 1, 2013, it became illegal to drive through both red and yellow lights in the Asian country. Those cited more than once will likely lose their driving privileges. The aggressive rule follows a crackdown by Chinese authorities aimed at reducing the estimated 250,000 road traffic fatalities the country experiences each year – a figure that makes road accidents the leading cause of death among residents between the ages of 15 and 44, says the World Health Organization.

The physics behind the law are flawed, as many in China have already criticized, as it is impossible to legally stop for a light without knowing when the signal is going to change. Many argue that the new regulation will grind traffic to a halt, as drivers are scared to proceed through even green lights. Despite the controversy, China's Ministry of Public Security continues to defend its odd ruling.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 123 Comments
      The Wasp
      • 1 Year Ago
      In much of the US, it's illegal to go through a yellow light if you can safely stop.
        Carbon Fibre
        • 1 Year Ago
        @The Wasp
        So by breaking heavily, burning tire before the intersection, yet i still get ticketed for wreckless driving?
          clquake
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Carbon Fibre
          If you're driving like that's you're doing it wrong.
      foxtrot685
      • 1 Year Ago
      I dont think this law would help, if anything I could see it causing increased rear-end collisions. How about instead of creating NEW laws, just enforce the ones you already have. If they are written poorly or aren't clear, rewrite them and hold the motorists accountable!
      DarrenDriven
      • 1 Year Ago
      I was in Shanghai for a few months and every signal there has a countdown until it is going to change... for both green and red lights. No drivers, especially city buses, paid much attention to the signals, even when there was a cop sitting right at the light. Sometimes there would even be a police officer standing in the intersection directing traffic and nobody would heed his hand signals -- and there seemed to be no repercussions!
      dave and mary
      • 1 Year Ago
      I was in the passenger seat yesterday as my friend was driving. We came to a red light ... he didn't slow down. I screamed "hey - you just ran a red light!" He said "my brother taught me to drive this way". We went a few blocks further, and we came to another red light. He ran it. I screamed again ... "hey, you just ...". " I know - I told you, my brother taught me to drive this way." Then we came to a green light. He stopped. "Why are you now stopping for a green?" He said "you crazy? My brother might be coming the other way"!
      snap_understeer_ftw
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why even have a yellow light?
      Rich
      • 1 Year Ago
      So now everyone will need to slow down to a near stop at every intersection before gunning it to make it through before the light turns yellow. I can see that working out real well.
      tbenvir
      • 1 Year Ago
      You Yanks better not drive in Canada. No one is allowed to drive thru a yellow light - and it works. Canadians don't, by & large, tailgate either or cut other drivers off. It's a refreshing change in altitude to drive north of the border, even if you arrive 45 seconds later.
      AlwaysOn
      • 1 Year Ago
      Some cities in the US already have this rule. You can and will get a ticket for going through a yellow. In this instance, it should be mandatory for the green to blink prior to yellow or have the countdown timers at the crosswalk for drivers to anticipate the yellow.
      Dark Gnat
      • 1 Year Ago
      The red lights will be replaced with machine guns.
      icerabbit
      • 1 Year Ago
      In Europe it is also against the law to drive through yellow, unless it is physically impossible to stop in time. It is typically not enforced. However if the police is present near the traffic light checking for all kinds of traffic violations (like red light runners) and you speed up to make it through yellow, instead of coming to a safe stop; you can expect a ticket. Yellow does not mean go the way it does in the US. At all intersections with traffic lights I'd like to see a demarcation, possibly using the solid white line between lanes to show drivers where the safe stop / yellow zone is. Not a day goes by that I do not see at least one person flagrantly run a red light, either because their time is too precious, rules don't count for them, they're distracted or whatever. Anyhow. It would give all drivers a visual indication that if they are outside that zone they will be running a red light, and that inside the beginning of that zone, you better stop. Right now there is no telling how much time there is at which intersection. Some switch slow. Some switch fast. And even defensive drivers driving the speed limit get caught of guard by ill-timed lights. So, I think if every intersection was timed appropriately according to the same rules and there was a visual clue to all drivers about the stop zone; that traffic would be a bit safer. Of course some people are incurable aggressive drivers.
        Ono
        • 1 Year Ago
        @icerabbit
        Great comment and I support the observations you made while driving overseas. Many licensed drivers in the U.S. truly believe they have a right to drive, act like an a$$, and will show you road-ownership papers when stopped by the police. Most should redo driver training.
          icerabbit
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ono
          Thanks, Ono. I actually have two European licenses and spent most of my life there. I think that driver's education is severely lacking in the US. Not that I favor the EU system, but you have to have a far better understanding of the rules of the road, safety and prove that you actually can drive safely in and around town. Getting a driver's license in the EU requires drivers to actually sit down and study for the theoretical test (you'll at least read the book twice to retain everything in it, but many people need a course and several attempts at the exam) and you need to have a fair amount of practice to pass the two part driving exam with the examiner in the back seat. Part one being several parking and other maneuvers in a tight space on the exam lot; and part two being a half hour drive around town. As opposed to the US where the vaguest notion of the rules and a quick trip around the parking lot suffice to get one's license. I was absolutely shocked how easy an American license is to obtain. A couple quick questions, as easy as pie, start the car, drive around the building, park, done. No wonder so many people are "winging it". I had to renew my license recently and the person ahead of me in line on his vision test needed 10-20 seconds per character? Really? If this was part of a sobriety test, one would think the person was drunk or drugged, or visually impaired at best. Clearly this person needed to be denied their privilege to drive and get glasses to correct their vision, as you should be able to read the whole line in a matter of seconds. But, no, it is fine to need two minutes to read the line of 6 characters according to the DMV. There's no way this guy was a safe driver due to the fact that he can't read signs in time nor can he see clearly what's happening a few yards ahead. I had to bite my lip, but just kept my mouth shut, as enough time had passed already, that I wanted to get my license renewed and get the heck out of the DMV office. Anyway. Better driver's education and little better examination would go a long way to having people drive with a better sense of the rules, defensive driving, etc.
        Ono
        • 1 Year Ago
        @icerabbit
        I paid for my son's driver training in Germany. Other parents would send their innocents to the U.S. for the quick-and-easy driver ed course. More: most U.S.drivers really do not care to read your post which again typifies too many American drivers. They believe to their marrow there is not better universal driver training than that taught in the U.S. Rome (good driver ed) was not built in a day. It only one match to reduce it and its ideals to ashes. Our U.S. roads are replete with 80% of drivers who should not be on the road under any circumstances.
        clquake
        • 1 Year Ago
        @icerabbit
        Yellow doesn't mean go in the US, it has the same meaning as everywhere else on the planet, however due to much less required driver's education, most people interpret it incorrectly.
      Mazdaspeed6
      • 1 Year Ago
      Learning how to drive could cut down fatalities
      Andrew B
      • 1 Year Ago
      This rule will just make cameras at intersections even more necessary (despite their own flaw). Maybe they should consider adding a new color stage to the light's process if they are going to ticket yellow light offenders. Plus, I agree Xi Gua, it is to proceed with caution. Too bad most of the idiots on the road (that's everyone but me) see it as a reason to speed up to make it through before it turns red.
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