The green light really does mean go for impatient drivers

Green means go

3… 2… 1. That’s exactly how much time it should take to react to a green light, according to almost half of drivers.

If you take more than three seconds to drive when traffic lights turn from red to green, a survey has found many Britons are likely to lose their patience with you.

Green for go

In a survey carried out by RAC of 2,498 motorists, 46% said three seconds is the maximum amount of time it should take for a driver to move off when the traffic light is green.

35% believed between four and six seconds is a reasonable amount of time, while 7% of the panel said they would be willing to wait patiently for as long as it takes someone to pull away.

Surprisingly, if it’s a young driver who’s taking more than three seconds to pull away, those behind are more likely to be irritated.

The survey also found that male drivers aged 17–34 are most likely to get annoyed when others are slow to react to the lights, with nearly 65% saying they lose their rag when other drivers don’t respond quickly.

Men are generally more likely to be frustrated than women, with the study finding 50% of men are likely to get annoyed, compared to 41% of women.

When geographically analysing the results, drivers from Yorkshire and the Humber were identified as the most impatient, with 55% confessing to getting annoyed by slow coaches at traffic lights. This contrasts to drivers in Wales, who appear to be the most accepting with just 34% getting irritated.

The bigger impact

One in five say they regularly don’t manage to get through a set of traffic lights because of slow drivers.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “While three seconds is obviously a very short time, anything longer than this can start to seem like an eternity when you desperately want to get through a set of traffic lights and the person in front is taking forever to get going.

“When you think that some lights only stay green for 15 seconds, this severely limits the number of vehicles that can get through before red comes up again, and this in turn makes jams – and potentially even air pollution – worse.”

He added: “The fact this is such a common issue means that too many drivers – for whatever reasons – clearly aren’t paying enough attention to what’s going on around them when they’re stationary at traffic lights.

“While our findings back up the old saying about the ‘impatience of youth’, with drivers under 35 being the most likely to get annoyed at those who cause unnecessary delays at traffic lights, it’s also the case that more drivers need to pay attention to the lights and not use the time to daydream or worse – to check their handheld phones illegally.”

What other driving traits annoy motorists? Find out here.

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