Green Means Stop. Red Means Go.

How many times have you been frustrated when, at a green traffic light, the right turning car in front of you won’t go – apparently waiting for the green arrow?

Pretty common hey?

To make matters worse, if you toot your horn you’ll be accused of being a road rager or just rude and impatient.  You just can’t win.

Well, it may be that it isn’t entirely the driver’s fault - that they read the traffic lights this way.  In fact, this is the system in many countries in Asia.

On a recent trip to Brunei, the tiny country of 450,000 people in the north of Borneo, I found that this was normal.

When driving in the city and faced with a green traffic light, you do not proceed until a green arrow appears.

What’s more, when faced with a red traffic light you may turn left if it is safe to do so.

In many cases each lane of traffic has its own sequence.  That means opposing traffic isn’t moving until your light is red and they have a green light.  Sounds okay, but to those of us that are used to anticipating the green light and our turn to move, it is very trying.

There are also the pedestrian challenges.  Most intersections with traffic lights have clear signals for pedestrians.  They have an animated light with little man – looks like Fix-it Felix from Wreck-it Ralph - walking fast with the time in seconds illuminated and counting down from something like 10.  That means Move It!  No time to stroll here because two seconds after Felix turns red, the traffic is coming at you!

So what we have now is a line of cars stopped at a green light waiting for the green arrow, cars turning left and running red lights and pedestrians walking against the red Felix because you can’t make it across the road in 10 seconds.

So next time you are stuck behind a right turning vehicle with a green light, and the driver appears uninterested, decide if they are distracted, asleep or from another country.  If the latter is true, be patient.  I was a tourist in Brunei and I don’t run red lights.  The left turners behind me were very understanding.