More than two people are killed every day on U.S. roads by impatient and reckless drivers blowing through red lights, according to data analysis performed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Impatience and distraction can lead to motorists speeding up when the light turns yellow in order to beat the red light. This practice is very dangerous and is one of the biggest factors in why we are seeing an increase in fatal crashes at intersections.
The most recent crash data available in the study shows 939 people were killed in red light running crashes in 2017 — a 10-year high and a 28% increase since 2012.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, In North Carolina in 2017, there were 33 fatalities caused by red light-running crashes, totaling 254 since 2008. In South Carolina in 2017, there were 11 red light-running fatalities, bringing the total to 127 since 2008.
According to the AAA Foundation:
- 28% of crash deaths that occur at signalized intersections are the result of a driver running through a red light.
- North Carolina saw its highest number of red light crash fatalities in 2017, with 33.
- Nearly half (46%) of those killed in red light running crashes were passengers or people in other vehicles and more than 5% were pedestrians or cyclists. Just over 35% of those killed were the drivers who ran the red light.
85% 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 when they could have stopped safely. More than 2 in 5 drivers also say it is unlikely they’ll be stopped by police for running a red light.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that when properly implemented, red light cameras reduced the fatal red light running crash rate of large cities by 21% and the rate of all types of fatal crashes at signalized intersections by 14%.
To prevent red light crashes, AAA recommends that drivers:
- Prepare to Stop: Lift your foot off the accelerator and “cover the brake” when preparing to enter any intersection by positioning your right foot just above the brake pedal, without touching it.
- Use Good Judgment: Monitor “stale” green lights, those that have been green a long time as you’ve approached the intersection. They are more likely to turn yellow as you arrive at the intersection.
- Tap the Brake: Tap your brakes a couple of times before fully applying them to slow down. This will catch the attention of drivers who may be inattentive or distracted behind you.
- Drive Defensively: Before you enter an intersection after the light has turned green for you, take a second after the light changes and look both ways before proceeding.