No matter what the circumstance, running a red light isn’t just illegal; it’s dangerous, reckless and puts every person around you in serious danger. According to a recent AAA report, the number of people committing this serious traffic violation is on the rise.
The report shows a 28% increase in the number of red light-running crashes from 2012 to 2017. In 2017 alone, 938 Americans died because a driver ran a red light.
California sees its fair share of these senseless incidents. In July, a pedestrian died and another was seriously injured when a Tesla ran a red light in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. The driver who had the green light clipped the Tesla, causing the Tesla to spin out of control and hit two people crossing at the crosswalk.
On Father’s Day, a 27-year-old woman ran a red light and crashed into a black Nissan at an intersection in North Hills, California. A father of two died in the crash and five other people were injured. The driver walked away.
The AAA report says nearly half of all people killed in red light crashes were either passengers of the offending driver or people in other vehicles. More than 5% were pedestrians or cyclists.
If you blow through a red light at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning, you may get away with it. But regardless of conditions, it’s against the law and extremely dangerous. Keep yourself and your family safe by practicing patience and waiting for green.
Although controversial, red light cameras do reduce the red light-running crash rate. In large cities, they reduce fatalities by 21%; at all signaled intersections, by 14%.
When you’re driving, AAA recommends the following safe-driving practices:
- Prepare to stop. When approaching an intersection, hover your foot over the brake without touching it.
- Watch for “stale” green lights. When you approach a light that’s been green for a long time, be prepared for it to turn yellow and prepare to stop.
- Tap the brake. Tap the brake a few times before slowing to alert the driver behind you.
- Drive defensively. When proceeding through a green light, look both ways first. You never know when you’ll cross paths with someone running a red light.
If you’re walking or cycling, look both ways and proceed through intersections with caution. Make sure drivers really do come to a complete stop. And follow the usual safety practices: stay visible, make eye contact and stay aware of your surroundings.