Okay, I'll admit right up front that there are a billion more important issues in life and that I'm revealing my road rage tendencies by even writing about this. However, today
some guy and I pissed each other off while driving, and there's a chance that he may be googling "left on red in Ohio" this very minute. My writing about this now will be too late for him to find this if he googles today, but someday he might see it, and then he'll know I was right. For all that's worth.
What the hell am I talking about?
Well, I'm not the world's most patient driver. I don't think I'm particularly reckless, and I don't have high risk insurance, nor have I had a speeding ticket in several years. However, I do not see the need to putz along, and I do think that most speed limits are set too low for normal conditions. In my defense a large plurality if not a majority of drivers agree with me about speed limits as evidenced by their behavior. If you don't believe that, drive 65MPH on an Interstate (or 55MPH where that's the limit) and count how many cars zip by you.
So today I was out doing some errands (I stopped at Fifth Third, Kroger and Trader Joe's), not really in any particular hurry. It's a Saturday, and I had no place I had to be.
On the way home I decided to stop by the main library to pick up some books and a CD that I'd reserved (reserving books online and picking them up through the drive through is ultra-convenient). I live downtown, a feature of which that some love and others hate is its grid of one-way streets. Dayton's main library is on a block bound on three sides by the one-way streets Patterson, Second and St. Clair, and coming north on Patterson, as I was, meant I had to make three left turns to get to the drive through. On a busy weekday that can mean waiting a bit, but on a Saturday afternoon with little traffic downtown, even if the lights are against you, you can turn left on red, so it's no big deal.
Except today, as I approached Second St., there was a guy in the left hand lane waiting patiently for the red light to change instead of going. The light changed to green just as I stopped behind him, we both turned left, and he putzed along slowly enough that by the time we got to St. Clair, the light there was red too. There was a bit of traffic there, but even after it cleared the intersection, he made no move to go. Now if the light had changed to green, and he'd still just sat there, probably most people would think I was justified in tapping my horn lightly to call his attention to the green light. Perhaps fewer would think I was justified in tapping my horn lightly to try to get him to turn left on red, but that's what I did. Yes, three or four times, lightly, pausing between taps (no, I did not hold the horn down so it blared, although I did just a few minutes later).
He flipped me off in the mirror, the light finally changed, we both turned left again, and wouldn't you know it, he turned into the library's drive through. He pulled up at the window, waited briefly, no one came to help him, and I'm sitting behind him, yes, this time patiently, no honks or anything, but cursing my luck at having to wait on him yet again.
He decides not to wait, pulls up but then stops as I pull up and stop at the window, gets out and comes to talk to me, starting off with, do you always turn left on red? I reply that yes, in fact, I do, that it's legal to turn left on red from one one-way street to another. He says, well if I wanted to get a ticket, that's fine, but he's not going to, and I repeat, that turning left on red on one-way streets is legal in Ohio and he can look it up online, and he says that I shouldn't tail gate him, and I say, if he'd just go, I wouldn't have to, and he says, I didn't need to honk my horn at him, and I say, all I did was tap it to get him to go, and he says,
I honked it as loud as I could, at which point, I do hold the horn down and blare it to demonstrate that no, I'd just tapped it earlier.
Well that was kind of embarrassing because my blaring horn got the attention of the librarian who should have been at the drive through in the first place. She saw the other guy's and my little discussion and realized I hadn't blared the horn to get her attention. I quietly turned to her, handed her my card and said I was there to pick up some books, and he turned to get in his car and left.
On the rest of the way home I was able to make my left turns on red and couldn't help noticing signs that say, "No Turn on Red except left curb lane," signs which this guy apparently never noticed before in his life, else he'd have had to wonder why we'd need such signs if left turns on red were always illegal. And now I am at home and
have done my own Google search and found that on page 33 of the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws, published on the official Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles website, it says:
Under limited circumstances, it is legal to make a left turn after stopping at a red traffic signal. A left turn on red may be made only from the extreme left lane of a one-way street to the extreme left lane of another one-way street, providing there is no sign posted forbidding a left turn on red.
So yes, I was right, and he was wrong. He wouldn't have gotten a ticket if he'd turned left on red. Yes, I realize that if Jesus were driving, he wouldn't honk at people who decline to turn left on red, but then Jesus probably wouldn't even own a car, and even Jesus got angry sometimes, though admittedly at issues that are way more important than this. Yes, this is not a shining moment in my life of which I should be proud, but fuck it. If you're sitting at a red light in the extreme left lane of a one-way street with your left turn signal on and decline to turn left onto another one-way street, I'm still gonna be annoyed, and yes, I still might tap my damned horn to let you know it.