Red Light

Running a red light is a serious intersection safety issue across the nation. Its seriousness can be underscored by the following facts:

  1. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Traffic Safety Facts 2008 Report, there were more than 2.3 million reported intersection-related crashes, resulting in more than 7,770 fatalities and approximately 733,000 injury crashes in 2008.
  2. NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reports that red-light running crashes alone caused 762 deaths in 2008.
  3. An estimated 165,000 people are injured annually by red-light runners.
  4. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that half of the people killed in red-light running crashes are not the signal violators; they are drivers and pedestrians hit by red-light runners.
  5. One in three people claim they personally know someone injured or killed in a red-light running crash.
  6. 97% of drivers feel that other drivers running red-lights are a major safety threat.

If the majority of road users felt that other drivers who tend to run the red lights are major safety threats, what could be the reasons why drivers keep on doing it? Some of the possible reasons that can be given include: being in a hurry to reach a destination; being late for an appointment; no other cars at the intersection; drivers did not see the pedestrian, and a lot of other reasons.

The accident that results from running the red light can be fatal. Interestingly, running the red light is also an offense common among bicyclists.

In 2010, Utah lawmakers did not approve the bill that would have let bicyclists in some cases run red lights and stop signs. According to the news article, the Senate was only one vote short of sending House Bill 91 to Gov. Gary Herbert. The bill would have let bicyclists roll through a stop sign after yielding to any traffic. It would also allow bicyclists to glide through certain red lights after coming to a complete stop to make sure no cars were coming.

The reasons given by bikers on why they run the red light include the following:

  •  I was turning left to continue my travel. Some respondents considered it was safer to turn left against the red than to wait for the green light.
  •  The loop did not detect my bike. Bikers reasoned that since the inductive loop embedded in the asphalt did not detect their bike, they have no choice but to run the red light.
  • There were no other road users. This statement can be interpreted to mean that most people will run the red light if they think nobody is watching.
  • It was a pedestrian crossing. Bikers sometimes used the pedestrian crossing but this action can also become a safety threat to pedestrians.

At any rate, any form of traffic violation, and for whatever reason that may seem valid at the time, is a serious offense. It is not debatable that road accidents have caused untold losses, grief and trauma to those involved.

Christensen & Hymas encourages all road users to share the road and practice road courtesy at all times. Waiting for your turn is always the best option, especially if you are using the road.

Photo “Red” copy right of Laurie Marie.

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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