Traffic Talk

Aug 14, 2013 9:41 AM

Dangers of running a red light

Red light running is a top cause of crash deaths

While highway safety advocates focus much of our attention on convincing motorists to wear seat belts and remain sober while behind the wheel, there are many other driving behaviors that result in high numbers of fatalities and injuries. One of these is red-light running.

The statistics behind red-light running are startling:
· Running a red light or other traffic control is the most common cause of all urban crashes.
· An estimated 164,000 people are injured annually by red-light runners.
· In the past decade, red-light running crashes killed nearly 9,000 people.
· Half of the people killed by red-light runners are not the violators -- they are passengers, other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.
· The cost to society of all crashes exceeds $230 billion annually.

Running late for an appointment, being distracted, impatience and thinking they could clear the intersection before a yellow signal turned red are just some of the excuses drivers give for flouting the law by speeding through red lights. Many red-light runners compound an already dangerous situation by racing through the intersection at high speeds.

Most vehicle crashes are dangerous, but those caused by red-light runners can be especially harmful to occupants. Crashes at intersections often involve the red-light runner's vehicle smashing into the side of another vehicle that has the right-of-way. Even if the vehicle hit is equipped with side airbags, its occupants are highly vulnerable. Broadside crashes -- sometimes referred to as "t-bone" crashes -- can cause the hit vehicle to roll over and eject unbelted occupants.

Although running a red light can result in a hefty fine and a moving violation on a driver's record, many motorists apparently believe the chances of getting a ticket are slim. It's estimated that someone runs a red light an average of every 20 minutes at urban intersections. Catching red-light runners can be tough -- often requiring an officer to actually witness the violation. That's one reason why more than 500 U.S. communities have resorted to installing red-light cameras to help reduce crashes. Some of Louisiana's largest cities are using cameras at intersections that experience high levels of red-light running.

Your best defense against red-light runners is to always wear seat belts and proceed cautiously at all intersections. When you are stopped at a red light that turns green, look both ways before moving forward.



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