Red Light Green Light – Driving in Omaha

Both my roommate and I are not Omaha, or even Nebraska, natives.  The result is that we often complain about some of the driving patterns. 

The one I plan to highlight today is the manner in which drivers treat stop lights. 

 Lets start with your standard Green Light.  You have to wait a little while before going.  It isn’t that you have to wait to see if anyone runs it before moving.  It’s because you have to wait for the people running the red light from the side direction. 

Then you have the Omaha Green Light.  This is what most other people think is a yellow light.  Other drivers seem to hate me because I slow down and stop on a yellow.  Some places call it the hurry up and speed light.  That isn’t even an issue here.  Most Omahan’s treat it as just an extension of the green light. 

The Omaha Yellow light is next.  This is where the street light has actually turned red but anywhere from 2 to 6 cars will run the red light.  Always.  Every time. 

This is such a problem that there was an article in the paper once about La Vista ticketing people who ran yellow lights.  A yellow light is so that people in the intersection can get out of it before the red light but if you are not in the intersection when it turns yellow you should not move into the intersection.  Running a yellow light is the same ticket as running a red light. 

I already know this.  So does my roommate.  Of course, we are not originally from this area.  I guess Nebraska in general, or Omaha in particular, have strange drivers education programs.

On a related note, the police seem to treat them as optional.  I’ve lived in small towns where the police might turn on the lights to go through a red light and then turn the lights off again right after.  But this is the first place where I’ve seen so many cops just drive through the red light, no lights, no siren, no drama.  Just running the red light.  Red lights are clearly things that happen to other people.

2 Responses to “Red Light Green Light – Driving in Omaha”

  1. I hate red lights… but my pet peeve is having to sit at green lights because some yahoo has blocked the intersection. If traffic is stopped and you cant clear the intersection, you should wait at your stop line until you can. Am I wrong here?

  2. My roommate would agree.

    I’m of two minds on that. If you are the first car at the intersection and there isn’t a dedicated turn lane, or there is but no dedicated turn light, then the only way to get though during rush hour is to move into the intersection. Otherwise you could sit through one, two, three or more light changes and never get out.

    But that is if you are the first car and you were already at the light waiting. The second car in line should wait for the first one get through, there might not be time for the second to make the left turn and then that one could end up blocking the intersection.

    That is an issue of poor city planning or the city not keeping up with the changing traffic patterns and keeping the roads, intersections, and lights up to date with the needs of the traffic flow.

    When people going straight though do this, it is even more annoying. If traffic isn’t moving, don’t just fill up the intersection. There could be an accident up ahead. And then blocking the cross flow when the light changes makes things even worse for everyone including the people blocking the road.

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