August 4-10, 2019 is Stop on Red Week
The National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) is partnering with organizations and communities across the country to raise awareness about the dangers of red-light running during National Stop on Red Week. Each day of this week focuses on different safety themes around red lights, useful statistics and information.
Running red lights is a common safety problem on our roads; a study of 19 intersections without red light cameras in four states found a violation rate of 3.2 per hour per intersection (Hill & Lindly, 2003). According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 890 people were killed in car crashes that involved red light running in 2017. An additional 132,000 people were injured by drivers running red lights that year.
How are cities trying to get drivers to stop running red lights?
Enforcement is the best way to get people to comply with traffic laws. Red-light enforcement can come in the form of officers waiting to catch someone violating the law or red-light cameras. Some cities have installed red light cameras that automatically take a picture of a person’s license plate when they run a red light. An IIHS study found that cameras reduced the fatal red-light running crash rate by 21 percent in large cities and that it reduced the rate of all types of fatal crashes at intersections with traffic signals by 14 percent.
There are many people who don’t feel comfortable with red light cameras. Some common objections include violation of privacy, that it’s a “cash grab” for the city, or that it feels like living in a police state. Safety experts believe that the reduction in crash fatalities should overcome all of these objections.
Apart from red light cameras, cities can lengthen yellow lights; giving drivers more time to stop before the light turns red. Another useful tool is to have a traffic signal ahead of the intersection that flashes yellow when the light at the intersection is about to turn red. An IIHS study found that a longer yellow light (1 second) dropped red light violations by 36 percent but that adding a red-light camera cut the red-light violations by another 96 percent (Retting et al., 2008).
What is the definition of red light running?
Here are three ways that a driver can run a red light:
A driver who enters an intersection any time after the traffic signal has turned red has run a red light. Note that a driver who is waiting to turn left and is in the intersection for a moment after the light turns red has not run a red light.
If a driver who lives in a city where right turns are allowed on a red light fails to come to a stop at the light before turning right; they have run a red light.
If a driver who lives in a city where right hand turns are not allowed at a red light turns at a red light; they have run a red light.
Who is most likely to run a red light?
In a national telephone survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety they found that drivers involved in 2017 fatal red light running multiple-vehicle crashes, the red-light runners were more likely than other drivers to be young men, to lack a valid driver’s license, and to have prior crashes or alcohol-impaired driving convictions.
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