According to data released in 2017 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, crashes in which drivers ran red lights killed 771 people and injured about 137,000 people in 2015. One study in Fairfax, Va., found that every 20 minutes at every intersection, a driver ran a red light.
It’s easy to understand why these crashes are especially dangerous in urban areas with busy intersections – drivers who run red lights are likely to strike another vehicle in the side. These “T-bone” crashes often result in severe injuries, especially in older-model cars that aren’t equipped with side air bags. And in urban areas, running a red light could result in pedestrian or bicyclist fatalities.
The IIHS recorded a re-creation of an actual T-bone intersection crash that occurred when a Ford F150 truck ran a red light. The YouTube video of the staged crash shows the truck slamming into the passenger side of a Chrysler Sebring at 48 mph, shattering the window, and forcing the driver (a crash-test mannequin) nearly into the adjacent passenger seat.
Who’s Running Red Lights
Young, male drivers with previous convictions for speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol have a higher incidence of red light running than other drivers. Speeding and alcohol impairment are also major factors in red light running crashes that result in fatalities.
Aggressive or distracted driving are also factors that could increase the likelihood of a driver’s running a red light.
Infrastructure improvements and enforcement efforts can help reduce the rate of red light running. The IIHS says that roundabouts have been shown to dramatically reduce crashes resulting in injuries, but roundabouts aren’t a practical solution for every intersection. At intersections with traffic signals, an easier solution is to extend the length of the yellow light.
Police can’t monitor every intersection for traffic law violations, so cameras are effective tools for helping law enforcement identify offenders – and for deterring drivers from running red lights. Traffic cameras at intersections have been shown to reduce red light running crashes by as much as 21 percent. While some people have expressed opposition to intersection cameras, saying they’re an invasion of privacy, the majority of public opinion is not opposed to red light cameras.
About 50 cities or municipalities in Texas use red light cameras to help reduce crashes, and in Austin, these cameras are in place at 10 major intersections. Drivers who run a red light at one of those intersections receive a notice in the mail of the offense, along with a link to view the photo and video of their car running the red light.
Ultimately, drivers will have to make a choice to be more cautious and to obey traffic laws if we are to completely eliminate red light running crashes.
If you were injured in a crash caused by a driver who ran a red light, discuss it with one of the attorneys at the Austin, TX-based Evans Law Firm. As personal injury attorneys with years of experience, we help the people of Texas put their lives back on track. We offer small law firm attention with big law firm results. Call today at (855) 414-1012 or fill out our online contact form to find out how we can help you.