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The Dangers of Red Light Running

Each year roughly 700 to a 1000 individuals lose their lives in the United States as a result of someone running a red light.   A 2004 national survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that ninety seven percent of drivers feel that red light running is a major safety threat and a 1999 survey by Old Dominion University revealed that one out of three people claim that they personally know someone injured or killed in this type of crash.  Clearly, this is an issue of national concern and the Federal Highway Administration has issued guidance memorandum on “yellow change intervals” for traffic engineers, most recently in July of 2009. Both Kentucky and Missouri reported a 15% reduction in all crashes and a 30% reduction in right-angle crashes after increasing the yellow interval.

The Federal Highway Administration lists ten things which you probably didn’t know about red-light running:

  • 1.You or your loved ones are more likely to be injured due to a red-light running related crash than any other type of crash.
  • 2. Running a red light or other traffic control is the most common cause of all urban crashes.
  • 3. Someone runs a red light an average of every 20 minutes at urban intersections.
  • 4. In the last decade, red-light running crashes killed nearly 9,000 people.
  • 5. An estimated 165,000 motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians are injured annually by red-light runners.
  • 6. Half of the people killed by red-light runners are not the signal violators – they are passengers, other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.
  • 7. Nearly 93% of drivers believe running a red light is unacceptable, yet 1 in 3 drivers reported doing so in the past 30 days.
  • 8. There are an average of 7 fatal crashes and over 1,000 injury crashes EVERY DAY at signalized intersections across the United States.
  • 9. The cost to society of all crashes exceeds $230 billion annually.
  • 10. The tragedies and costs resulting from red-light running are preventable!

Following are suggestions to reduce these senseless tragedies.

First, make a decision right now to always be prepared to stop when approaching intersections.  Despite your “hurry,” nothing is worth the tragedy you could cause to yourself and your family, much less the catastrophic harm you could cause to another.

Be aware of the speed limit and stay within it; so that you have the time and space to stop should a light turn yellow.

Look out for the other guy – look right, left and right again before proceeding on a green light – just as you would if there were no light directing traffic.  Don’t assume someone will stop until you see them actually do so.

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