At least two people are killed every day in the United States when people run red lights. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in 2017, which is the most recent crash data available, 939 people were killed in red light running accidents. That is a ten-year high and a noteworthy 28% increase since 2012. A number of different factors may be considering to these traffic fatalities, but distracted driving (mainly people using devices while driving) seems to be one of the main contributors to these deadly accidents.
Red Light Crashes by the Number
AAA provides additional statistics regarding red light traffic deaths:
- In a typical year, 28% of red light fatalities that occur at “signalized intersections” are the result of a driver speeding through a red light.
- Arizona has the highest rate of red light running fatalities while New Hampshire has the lowest.
- A little under half (46%) of those killed in red light running crashes were passengers or people in other vehicles and about 5% were pedestrians or cyclists.
- A little over 35% of those killed were the drivers who ran the red light.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety publishes the “Traffic Safety Culture Index” each year, and the report from last year showed some interesting facts. The latest edition of the Index revealed that “5% of drivers view red light running as very dangerous, yet nearly one in three say they blew through a red light within the past 30 days” even when they had the opportunity to safely stop for the red light. Two out of every five drivers who run a red light say it’s unlikely they will be caught by law enforcement; running a red light is illegal in every state. The violation of running a red light can result in several points on your driver’s license, hefty fines, and even jail time if you’re a repeat offender.
Reducing Red Light Fatalities
AAA states that the implementation of red light cameras helps to ensure the safety of drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists, and that when these devices are operating properly, the number of red light accidents and fatalities goes down. AAA encourages local governments to:
- Use a red light camera program as part of a comprehensive traffic safety strategy.
- Implement red light cameras at intersections with a history or pattern of accidents.
- Warn drivers that red light cameras are being used at certain intersections.
- Calibrating the cameras correctly and check their accuracy often.
- Evaluate the red light cameras programs periodically to ensure they’re working and serving their intended purpose of reducing accidents and saving lives.
Drivers can take some very easy steps to help reduce the number of red light traffic deaths:
- Slow down when entering an intersection
- Stop on a yellow light
- Don’t look at devices while driving
- Don’t drink and drive
- Look carefully for pedestrians and bikes at all crosswalks
- Tap your brakes as you approach an intersection to alert the car behind you that you may be stopping