We know the danger of running red lights. We know it is against the law to run red lights. Yet it happens as often as three times per hour in some intersections. When did you last run a red light, and who did you endanger?
Definition of Running a Red Light
If you take your vehicle into an intersection at any time after the traffic light turns red, you have run the red light and a violation of law has occurred. There are no pink or orange traffic lights – only red, yellow, and green. Turning right at an intersection where right turn on red is not permitted is also a violation.
There are, however, exceptions to this law.
- If your vehicle is already in the intersection (for example, waiting to make a left turn) when the traffic light turns red, it is not a violation.
- If a right turn on a red light is permitted in a particular intersection, you may turn after coming to a complete stop before turning. Failure to come to a complete stop before turning right is a violation.
Why Does It Matter?
Every year, hundreds of deaths and many thousands of injuries result from someone running a red light and causing a crash. In 2015, in the U.S., red-light runners caused 771 deaths and 137,000 injuries. More than half of the dead were either bicyclists or pedestrians, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
It should be noted, as well, that violations of the right turn on red requirements are also very dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. When right turn on red laws were introduced, these collisions increased by 43 – 123 percent. The vast majority of bicyclists and pedestrians hit by a car are injured.
How Often Do Drivers Run Red Lights?
A 2011 study by the IIHS was conducted in 14 large cities that had red light cameras in place. Of the drivers surveyed, 82 percent said they believed running red lights was dangerous to their personal safety. In the same group 93 percent said running red lights is not acceptable driving behavior. Yet seven percent admitted that they had driven through a light after it turned red at least once in the past 30 days.
In 2016, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a phone survey. Of those interviewed, 93 percent said it is wrong to go through a red light if it is possible to stop safely. Yet 36 percent of those people said they had driven through a red light in the previous month. When was the last time you ran a red light?
Red Light Cameras
Despite arguments to the contrary, red light cameras do reduce the number of drivers that run red lights at those intersections. It is not surprising to learn that the use of the cameras causes some increase in the number of rear end accidents at those intersections, at least according to some studies. Other studies demonstrate a reduction of side and front collisions and no increase in rear end collisions.
It is important to ask ourselves periodically when was the last time your ran a red light. It is so easy to do, and so easy to justify to ourselves as preventing a rear end collision. When we consider the number of lives that are ended or forever changed by these collisions, it is worth the time and attention to drive responsibly (and legally) when approaching intersections. Whether there is or is not a red-light camera at an intersection should not matter. The primary concern should be human life, and not a traffic ticket or fine.
If you or a loved one has been injured in by a driver who ran a red light, call the caring and trusted attorneys of Altizer Law, P.C. Our attorneys are known as fierce advocates for their clients with a very impressive record of success. Contact us to schedule your free initial consultation.