Red Light Running Deaths Hit 10-Year High
New AAA analysis finds more than two people are killed every day in red light running crashes, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists.
DENVER (Aug. 29, 2019) – More than two people are killed every day on U.S. roads by impatient and reckless drivers blowing through red lights, according to new data analysis performed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The most recent crash data available show that 939 people were killed in red light running crashes in 2017 – a 10-year high and a 28 percent increase since 2012. In Colorado, 20 people were killed by red light runners in 2017 – the sixth highest rate, per capita, in the country.
According to the AAA Foundation:
- 28 percent of crash deaths that occur at signalized intersections are the result of a driver running through a red light.
- Per capita, Arizona has the highest rate of red light running fatalities, while New Hampshire has the lowest rate.
- Nearly half (46 percent) of those killed in red light running crashes were passengers or people in other vehicles, and more than five percent were pedestrians or cyclists. Just over 35 percent of those killed were the drivers who ran the red light.
"Here's the bottom line: Drivers who decide to run a red light when they could have stopped safely are making a reckless choice that puts others in danger," said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley. "The data is clear: Red light running remains a significant traffic safety challenge, and lives are on the line."
According to the AAA Foundation's latest Traffic Safety Culture Index, 85 percent of drivers believe red light running is "very dangerous" – yet one in three say they blew through a red light within the past 30 days when they could have stopped safely. Strikingly, more than two in five drivers also say they don't think they'd be stopped by police for running a red light.
Red Light Cameras
While enforcement is the single most effective way to get drivers to comply with red light laws, it is impossible for police to be at every intersection. 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 percent and the rate of all types of fatal crashes at signalized intersections by 14 percent.
Proper implementation of red light cameras helps to ensure drivers' safety and trust in these systems. When using red light camera programs, local governments should incorporate best practices such as:
- Using the camera program as part of a comprehensive traffic safety strategy, including engineering and education.
- Only implementing programs on roadways with a demonstrated pattern of violations or crashes.
- Notifying drivers that cameras are being used (signage and other methods).
- Calibrating cameras regularly.
- Only operating cameras under the direct supervision of law enforcement personnel.
- Evaluating the programs on a periodic basis to ensure safety benefits are being realized.
Tips for Motorists
Changes in driver behavior are critical to reducing red light running crashes on U.S. roads. 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.
- 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.
Tips for Vulnerable Road Users
Pedestrians and cyclists should also stay safe when traveling near intersections. AAA recommends:
- Wait: Give yourself a few seconds to make sure all cars have come to a complete stop before moving through the intersection.
- Stay Alert and Listen: Don't take chances and don't wear headphones. Watch what is going on and give your full attention to the environment around you.
- Be Visible: Stay in well-lit areas, especially when crossing the street
- Make Eye Contact: Look at drivers in stopped vehicles to ensure they see you before crossing the road in front of them.
About the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.
About AAA Colorado
More than 695,000 members strong, AAA Colorado is the state’s greatest advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services — as well as member-exclusive savings. For more information, visit AAA.com.