Q I have a confession to make.
A I love confessions. Honk away.
Q I'm the driver who's been honking at Ms. Hennings (or other drivers like her) as I sit behind her at green lights without waiting for the proper three seconds, as she says is necessary before I can honk. I have little to say in my defense except that, while the driver in front of me was stopped at the light putting on makeup, I was checking all around for pedestrians and bicycle traffic.
While that same driver was texting, I was watching cross traffic in all lanes come to a complete stop while the signal light cycled. I will admit, I was in such a hurry that it seemed like forever as I watched that green light just to see if it would change to a different shade of green or if an officer would come up and issue a written invitation to safely enter the intersection.
Seriously, a light, quick double-tap of the horn is nothing more than a polite reminder to look up from your reading and maintain situational awareness.
A Ms. Hennings has ignited a Roadshow debate on drivers who honk at other motorists who don't zip off right away when the light flips from red to green.
Q I honk at people like her frequently. I think the reason is the fact that almost all of these people are busy texting and totally unaware that the light is now green. But, with the timing of the lights, if the first car doesn't get out there, the fifth car in line doesn't have a chance. Then we end up watching what my daughter used to call ghost cars, the invisible cross traffic.
A These ghosts are seemingly everywhere.
Q I agree with Hennings about honking. It's annoying and I hate it, too, but I am doing it more often these days. Why? Because people aren't paying attention.
They are sitting at the red light catching up with their paperwork, talking on the phone, texting, just plain not being in the real world. They make the light and I don't! That's maddening! It happens a lot!
People!!!! Pay attention!!!!
A And ...
Q Your horn-honking column prompts me to write you with another story about my dear old dad, bless his socks. Many years ago, cars came equipped with both a key and a button on the floor which you pressed with your foot in order to engage the starter motor. One day, an impatient fellow behind my father honked his horn immediately upon the signal change. My father purposely popped the clutch, stalling the engine. He then turned the key off, and began grinding the starter motor with the key off. Of course, the car wouldn't start.
My dad kept grinding away, the fellow behind kept honking. After two cycles of the signal, a policeman ambled over to my father's car and told him: "OK, buddy, you've had your fun. Now turn on the key and get it started."
A Bless his socks, indeed!
Q Gary, it's that time of year again. I know you've been running topics about blinker use and common courtesy, but the potential road rage meter always goes up a few notches during the holidays. Is it worth it to cut people off and sit on your horn so that you can get to your destination a few microseconds earlier? We get stressed out, raise our blood pressure and ruin the atmosphere of the holidays by driving like this. Unfortunately everyone in the Bay Area who drives doesn't read your column, but could you please post a note for people:
Q There is a red right arrow on southbound East Bayshore Road at San Antonio Road in Palo Alto. There are no signs warning about no turn on red. Is this a mistake?
A No. A red arrow means it is illegal to turn right on the red light. No sign is needed.
Join Gary Richards for an hourlong chat noon Wednesday at www.mercurynews.com/live-chats. Look for Gary at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408-920-5335. The fax number is 408-288-8060.