We all know a red light means stop, – but despite knowing we should stop, many of us run the red
light. It seems to be a trend that a yellow light means “step on it” and people press the gas instead of the brake. In our increasingly hectic world, more and more people are taking the risk of running a red light, but few stop to really consider the consequences of that action.
Intersection safety is a priority on the national, state and local level. An intersection is a planned “point of conflict” where multiple lanes of traffic and cross walks all come together in one location. One quarter of all traffic fatalities and roughly half of all traffic injuries were attributed to intersections. 1
It is virtually impossible to avoid intersections on roadways so a lot of planning, engineering, and designing goes into making our intersections safer. However, no matter whether it is a stop sign or a red stop light, if the driver chooses not to stop, the number of fatalities and injuries at intersections will continue to accrue. For that reason, American Traffic Solutions along with various other agencies have promoted National Stop on Red Week year after year. This year we are partnering with them to promote awareness. Join our Facebook page where we will be engaging our audience every day of the week with facts, stats, questions and more relating to National Stop on Red Week.
Why do People run Red Lights?
Perhaps looking into the reasons why this appears to be such a socially ingrained problem would help us find some answers on how to solve this issue.
- Technology: With the rise of technology, we are always on the go and in constant communication whether it be phone calls, texts, or emails. People expect a response immediately. This creates a false sense of urgency that spills out into many aspects of people’s lives. We erroneously believe that we have to hurry onto the next thing or place as fast as possible. For this reason some people run red lights because they do not wish to wait the few seconds it would have taken had they stopped.
- Generation “Me”: Since the 1980s, entitlement among youth has become an ever growing problem. This problem is further exacerbated by reality-TV culture, “selfies”, and other socially and culturally acceptable behavior that have further engrained the “it’s all about me” mentality. Often if one feels that they are the center of the world, they also feel that the rules don’t apply to them or that they are “above the law.” This attitude is one of the reasons people run red lights.
- Growing Populations: As the population increases, especially in urban areas, the roadways become more crowded. Poorly timed lights, road construction, backup and wait times extend many people’s commutes and adds to frustration on the road. Most people are in a hurry to get to their destination and what becomes a one time rush through a red light at an intersection soon becomes a habit. This further exacerbates the problem because the traffic at the green light may have to wait longer because of other drivers running the red light. It starts a vicious cycle that only worsens the traffic congestion.
Red Light Cameras: A Solution or a Hazard?
During one of the many planning, designing and engineering sessions and discussions about how to stop this issue of running red lights, a red light running camera was proposed. This camera would take a photograph of the driver, car and license plate and send it to authorities. This allowed people to be charged fines for running red lights even if an officer was not on location to see the traffic violation occur. If the authorities determined that the driver was in fact running the red light, a citation would be issued. In addition to being a one time financial inconvenience, these kinds of citations can have a long term financial effect by driving up premiums on automobile insurance or in the case of a multiple repeat offender, the insurance company may opt to no longer insure the driver. As almost all states have required automobile insurance, losing your auto insurance can have very far reaching effects.
While many people would argue that the red light cameras act as a deterrent for running a red light, and some research indicates that it is effective, others would argue that the cameras cause more drivers to slam on the brakes to avoid running a red light and by doing so increase the risk of a rear end collision. It is arguable how strong that argument is as the driver following the driver who stops at the red light should have allowed adequate distance to stop, should have also observed the yellow light indicating a red light was forthcoming and should have slowed down. All vehicles approaching an intersection must keep a proper lookout, obey traffic signals, and proceed with caution. Until the day that all drivers on the road everywhere can adhere to those standards, traffic accidents and fatalities will continue.
Injured at an Intersection?
If you or a loved one has been involved in an automobile accident involving an intersection, call the Granite Law Group for a free consultation.
Were you a pedestrian injured in a crosswalk at an intersection? Contact the Granite Law Group for a free case evaluation.