Traffic Fatalities Caused by Red Light Runners at a Ten-Year High, According to Recent Research
Why do drivers run red lights, even when it's clearly dangerous and illegal to do so? The answer lies in the driving habits we see all around us each day. Some drivers are simply in a hurry to get somewhere and tend to blow through traffic lights. Others are unaware when they do it because their eyes are fixed on smartphones and not on the road ahead.
When drivers run red lights at signalized intersections, they often cause broadside, or T-bone, crashes. They either strike a vehicle entering an intersection, or they themselves are struck by a driver who has the right of way.
How common are crashes caused by red light running?
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently reported that crashes caused by drivers who run red lights are at a 10-year high — killing more than two people per day across the US. In 2017, red light running caused approximately 939 traffic fatalities, which marks a 28 percent increase from 2012.
Out of all nationwide traffic fatalities, 28 percent were caused by drivers running red lights at intersections. Nearly half of those killed were passengers or occupants in vehicles that were struck. More than five percent of those killed were pedestrians and bicyclists. The majority of traffic fatalities caused by red light running were reported in Arizona and the least were reported in New Hampshire.
Roughly 85 percent of drivers think running red lights is very dangerous, according to AAA's latest Traffic Safety Culture Index. About a third of driver surveyed, however, said that they had blown through red lights within the past 30 days. Additionally, more than 2 out of 5 drivers surveyed said that they will likely not be stopped by police when running a red light.
What are some ways these crashes can be prevented?
Crashes caused by drivers who run red lights are preventable, but only when drivers stay attentive and practice safety precautions. Here are some suggestions from AAA:
- Prepare to stop by positioning your foot over the brake pedal when approaching a traffic signal.
- If a light has been green for a while, be aware that it could change at any moment.
- Tap your brakes a couple of times before stopping at a red light to alert other drivers behind you.
- Even when a light turns green and you have the right-of-way, it's important to first watch out for red light runners before proceeding.
AAA offers the following tips for pedestrians:
- Before proceeding through an intersection,
- Make sure all vehicles are completely stopped, and
- Ensure drivers can see you by making eye contact.
- Pay attention to your surroundings and avoid wearing headphones.
- Make yourself visible and stay in well-lit areas.
Can red light cameras prevent these crashes?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says red light cameras have reduced fatal crashes caused by red light runners in large cities across the US by 21 percent. Fatal crashes of all types at signalized intersections were reduced by 14 percent.
Jessica Cicchino, IIHS Vice President for Research, says that fatal crashes caused by red light runners are increasing. However, red light cameras are making some drivers think twice about blowing through a traffic signal.
“Cameras increase the odds that violators will get caught, and well-publicized camera programs discourage would-be violators from taking those odds," said Cicchino. "Camera enforcement is a proven way to reduce red light running and save lives.”
According to a Nebraska red light camera map, there are six cameras installed at intersections along Route 6 and one at the intersection of Willow Avenue and South 7th Street. The footage captured from these cameras may provide solid evidence against negligent drivers. Obtaining this footage, however, isn't easy. An experienced Omaha car accident attorney at Ausman Law Firm P.C., L.L.O. can help you build a solid claim by utilizing the available evidence.
If you were hurt in a crash caused by a red light runner, contact our law office to find out how we can help.