Brent Batten: Extra lights won't give Viagra users the blues

BRENT BATTEN
The new blue lights, left, on some local intersection mast arms are another tool for area law enforcement officers to catch red-light runners.

Daily News

The new blue lights, left, on some local intersection mast arms are another tool for area law enforcement officers to catch red-light runners.

You can almost hear the defense argument.

“Your honor, I was approaching the intersection, watching the light, then my Viagra kicked in...”

The potential of Viagra and similar drugs to cause changes in color perception has at least one local resident worried that the presence of new blue lights on traffic signal standards will have erectile dysfunction patients slamming into each other like bumper cars.

“I can see it now. ‘No, no, no there was a green light and a red light at the same time,’” writes Robert Jenkins of North Naples.

Police, who use the extra light to catch red light runners, aren’t worried, however.

In fact, the topic of color perception among Viagra users didn’t pop up as the blue lights were contemplated. That’s probably not the best way to put it. Let’s just say the issue didn’t arise. That’s no good either.

It’s not a problem. Leave it at that.

While it’s true that in addition to diarrhea, dizziness, flushing, headache, heartburn, stuffy nose, upset stomach, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, chest pain, fainting, fast or irregular heartbeat, memory loss, numbness of an arm or leg, one-sided weakness, ringing in the ears, seizure and severe or persistent dizziness, Viagra use has been linked to changes in vision, the arrangement of the lights on the signal poles should prevent any confusion, said Lt. John Barkley of the Naples Police Department.

The blue lights, which can be seen from any angle near the intersection, are hung below the mast arm of light standards. They’re to the side of the standard set of red, yellow and green lights and therefore, no matter what color the driver perceives, shouldn’t influence the decision to stop or go.

The blue light comes on at the same time as the red light. The purpose of the blue light is to allow officers around an intersection to tell if a driver has gone through a red light. Without the blue light, an officer has to be behind the offending driver to issue a citation for running a red light, since he has to know for a fact the light was red when the driver went through. That’s difficult, if not impossible to judge from side angles because traffic lights are directed toward the lanes of travel they govern.

The location of the blue light below and to the side is key, Barkley said.

“If you’re confusing that with one of the regular traffic lights, then there are bigger issues than what the color is,” he said.

While the mixture of Viagra and blue lights on traffic standards may make for an amusing scenario on the ground, the Federal Aviation Administration isn’t laughing.

It has issued a caution advising pilots not to fly for at least six hours after taking Viagra.

Problems with blue-green color perception pose a difficulty for pilots when it comes to distinguishing taxiway lights and lighted instruments.

“Although only 3 percent of all patients report visual disturbances, this blue-green impairment could be dangerous. The correct identification by the pilot of blue and green is necessary for safe flight,” according to Dr. Donato Borrillo, who wrote about the subject in the Federal Air Surgeon’s Medical Bulletin.

Then there’s the matter of the “Mile High Club.” The FAA doctors ever so gingerly addressed it, as well. Because of “an activity not condoned by the FAA, but known to occur,” it warned that “(Viagra) use by a pilot with cardiac disease during sexual intercourse at 5,000 feet could be deadly.”

Come to think of it, that could be dangerous in a car, too.

“Your honor, I was approaching the intersection, watching the light, then my Viagra kicked in...”

Connect with Brent Batten at naplesnews.com/staff/brent_batten

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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