When you’re driving in the city, the red traffic light signals that you need to stop. This is necessary so as to maintain order and prevent collisions. Usually, the red traffic light holding up your lane means that the adjacent lane will have the green light. This way, there won’t be too much congestion on any lane.
If you fail to stop your vehicle at the red light, you could be charged for dangerous driving and breaking traffic rules. In addition, you risk a collision which could have rippling effects: a pile up and smash up involving a large number of vehicles. You would be the culprit!
Nevertheless, some drivers do “run the red light”. That is, they keep driving even though the red traffic light is telling them that they need to stop. Why? Because there are rare instances when there are so few vehicles on the road that you can see clearly that there is nothing on the adjacent lane. You see that there is no harm in “running the red light”. Even though you’re right, and there’s no obvious harm, you’re still breaking a rule! And you could be charged.
In the same way, professional writers and editors sometimes “run the red light” in their writing and editing. We know the rules, but sometimes there seems no harm in breaking them. For example, we know we must separate two independent clauses of a compound sentence with a comma, but at times we ignore this rule, because we’re sure the reader will understand.
At other times, we misplace or omit a punctuation mark or modifier, not thinking too much about it. Just like the driver who knows that he shouldn’t stop less than 200 feet away from a junction, but still does, so do professional writers and editors break little grammar rules here and there. And it’s OK as long as nobody gets hurt! Well, sort of….