13 September 2012

A Dream Come True

Back in June, in the city in which I live,* there was a pretty terrible storm.  It was bad enough to leave large portions of the city without power for a couple of days.  And this meant no traffic lights.

I’ve been wondering for a couple years what would happen if there were no traffic laws in place, and the storm gave me a small glimpse at what that was like.  Contra to the possible expectations of whiny statists, gridlock did not occur.  (Except in cases where roads were blocked by serious obstructions, like downed trees.  Of course, that sort of gridlocked would have occurred even if the traffic lights were working, so this a moot point.)

In fact, the reality of life without traffic lights was that traffic moved faster.  Intersections became four way stops, which became four way yields.  You could even blow through darkened lights if no one else was around.  I commuted from home to church in under fifteen minutes, a process that normally takes over twenty-five when the traffic lights are on.  Navigating intersections became a matter of interacting with other drivers instead of looking at some light.  You actually to think for yourself, be aware of your surroundings, and pay attention to what you were doing.

Additionally, my gas mileage improved.  I filled up the second day lights were out at one of the few operational filling stations, then filled up again the day the lights came back on.  I went from 21 MPG to 24 MPG city.

Also, driving was fun again.  It was, to me at least, quite exciting to blow through intersections where no other drivers were around.  I did slow down to check for traffic, of course, but if it was obvious that no one was around, I’d blow through intersections at 30 MPH.  Plus, it was fun to not have to wait three minutes for a light cycle to run through so I could turn left at certain intersections.  It was nice to (hypothetically, of course) pass slowpokes and blow through stop signs, secure in the knowledge that the fuzz was too busy with other things to worry about enforcing measly traffic laws.

Basically, the five days my city was without power was a libertarian wet dream come true for me.  Everything was better in the absence of traffic lights.  Driving wasn’t as time-consuming, my fuel efficiency increased, and subsequent costs decreased.  Hopefully there will come a day when traffic lights go off permanently.

* Fort Wayne, for those who are interested.


  1. http://carnivorescave.blogspot.com/2012/08/anarcho-roads.html

  2. @Carnivore- Cool vid; here are some more videos to consider:


  3. Thanks. That 2nd video is interesting. I can think of a lot of simpler intersections on my daily route which would benefit without lights. But, of course, it's big business. My local suburb put in lights at an intersection and the local paper mentioned that a federal grant was used. Yet another reason we're broke.