It should only take motorists three seconds to move off when traffic lights turn to green, according to a new survey.
In a study of almost 2,500 drivers by the RAC, nearly half (46 percent) said it should take no longer than three seconds for the driver in front to respond.
Between four and six seconds was acceptable for just over a third (35 percent), with only seven percent willing to wait for others as long as is required.
Three seconds to frustration
The level of frustration felt by drivers was relatively evenly split. Overall, 46 percent said they get annoyed by having to wait, versus 54 percent who remain unbothered. Younger drivers are more likely to become impatient.
Some 44 percent of respondents said they had waited more than 15 seconds, due to drivers ahead failing to notice the lights going green. And 64 percent said they had been stuck for over 10 seconds.
Almost a fifth (17 percent) of those asked said inattentive drivers ahead regularly resulted in them not getting through a set of traffic lights.
Men were more likely to get frustrated, with 50 percent saying they get annoyed – compared to 41 percent of female respondents.
Smartphones to blame?
Close to three-quarters of drivers (72 percent) put the blame on drivers simply not paying attention. However, 40 percent believe the problem is caused by motorists illegally checking their phones at traffic lights.
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.
“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 around them when they’re stationary at traffic lights. As well as increasing journey times, this could have a road safety implication – particularly when people suddenly realise the lights have changed and then hurriedly pull away without properly checking their mirrors and making sure everything is clear around them.”