New Research: Fatal Crashes Caused by Red Light Runners are on the Rise
Speeding, recklessness, and distracted driving are common reasons why drivers run red lights. In 2018, we discussed crash data showing the crashes involving red light runners were rising at an alarming rate. There were a total of 811 deaths related to red light runners in 2016.
Recent research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows something even more staggering. The death toll rose to 939 in 2017, marking a 28 percent increase since 2012. That means, nearly three people die on US roads each day due to red light runners alone. Nearly half of those killed include passengers or other vehicle occupants and more than five percent include pedestrians and bicyclists.
Limited law enforcement at intersections
What's even more concerning is the driving culture and general attitude towards traffic signals. AAA surveyed drivers in its latest Traffic Safety Culture Index. According to findings, 85 percent of survey participants viewed red light running as extremely dangerous. However, 1 in 3 admitted to blowing through a red light within the past 30 days and nearly half didn't believe they'll be stopped by police for doing so.
There is almost no enforcement at many signalized intersections, as law enforcement can't be everywhere all the time. The only enforcement available in West Palm Beach is three camera plate readers installed around the downtown area. Most of the city's red light cameras are currently disabled.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says that red light cameras are effective when it comes to preventing crashes caused by red light runners. Jessica Cicchino, IIHS Vice President for Research, explains why.
“Cameras increase the odds that violators will get caught, and well-publicized camera programs discourage would-be violators from taking those odds," she said. "Camera enforcement is a proven way to reduce red light running and save lives.”
IIHS research suggests that red light cameras resulted in a 21 percent decrease in fatalities involving red light runners in large cities nationwide — including a 14 percent drop in fatalities involving all types of crashes at signalized intersections.
Without adequate enforcement at signalized intersections, some drivers may feel that they can get away with running red lights, despite the risks. That's why AAA offers some tips to all road users on how to stay safe at traffic signals.
Safety tips for drivers
- Prepare yourself to stop by positioning your foot over the brake pedal when approaching a traffic light.
- Be aware that a green light can suddenly change.
- Before stopping, tap your brakes a couple of times to alert drivers behind you that you're about to stop.
- Once a light turns green, take a moment to make sure the coast is clear before proceeding.
Safety tips for pedestrians and bicyclists
- Only proceed into an intersection or cross the street if:
- All cars have come to a complete stop.
- Drivers have made eye contact with you.
- Be aware of your surroundings, avoid distraction, and avoid wearing headphones
- Make yourself visible by wearing bright clothing and staying in well-lit areas
Should you or a loved one be injured in a crash involving a driver who ignored a traffic signal, an experienced West Palm Beach car accident attorney at David J. Glatthorn, P.A. can help you build a strong legal claim. Before you take any other course of action, contact us online to discuss your legal options.