Boundary Conditions and Rules

I was in my car at a junction near my house today and the signal turned from red to blinking orange just when it was time for me to leave. All the cars started moving at the same time and got interlocked at the center, it took more than 15 mins for people to back out of the jam and move on with their lives. This kind of got me thinking about how we create rules with the assumption of creating a smoother lifestyle, how the same rules breakdown at the boundaries and how when they breakdown they nullify the very reason they were setup for.

I have passed through the same junction multiple times when either the signal was on and when it was off and the traffic flow was never in such a bad shape as at the moment that the rule changed. I have another such example of a very complex junction slightly further away from my house where there was no signal for a long time and believe it or not, I never had wait time, there was never a traffic jam and no accidents. Now, the junction got a brand new traffic signal one day and since then, every single time I have had to wait in line to get across. So, are traffic signals good? In general, are rules good? Especially when they create boundary conditions that nullify their very existence? So, here is a test for a rule in general, if it breaks down at the boundary condition and causes discomfort to the public, the public might be better off without it!

Now, you might say that the rule in general avoids “one-off freak” accidents, but think again, those happen anyway, right? What do you think – rules or no rules?

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