Did You Follow the Rules During August Stop on Red Week?

August 5 to 11 was the National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) Stop on Red Week – seven days set aside every year to highlight the importance of coming to a complete stop at red lights, and the dangers of not doing so.

While any right-thinking person knows that it’s simply not smart (nor is it safe, nor is it legal) to blow a red light, the NCSR went to some lengths to highlight the dangers, and to present some very interesting statistics and facts around drivers’ behavior when it comes to running red lights. Every day of the week was dedicated to a new safety aspect, with supporting facts and figures.

Do you think no one saw you run that light?

Many drivers clearly believe that if traffic is light or it’s late at night, they won’t be seen acting in an illegal, careless and potentially lethal way when they run a red light. However, the NCSR figures released during National Stop on Red Week were generated by gathering information from 1,240 safety cameras set up in 42 municipal areas over 18 states. Many red light-running drivers would be more than just a little humiliated if the behavior caught on camera was ever released to the general public!

The figures were collated over the entire calendar year of 2011 and threw up some surprising facts. Some of the highlights of the report include:

  • Memorial Day weekend was by far the worst in terms of red light running violations. At the monitored locations, no fewer than 26,787 drivers were recorded running red lights. That figure was a shocking 27 percent higher than the average weekend period in 2011.
  • Friday was by far and away the worst day for red light offenders. A total of 378,122 violations were recorded, which amounted to 16.15 percent of the yearly total. These drivers were clearly in a hurry to get the weekend started, but Portland accident attorneys were quick to point out that too many of these drivers (and their innocent victims) never made it to Saturday.
  • Sunday was, by comparison, the day which saw the fewest drivers running red lights, but even then, the numbers were surprisingly high. A total of 289,603 drivers, or 12.4 percent of the overall total, violated red light laws coming to the end of their weekend.
  • The best day, or that which saw the fewest number of red light runners was, perhaps unsurprisingly, Christmas Day. In the monitored locations, 3,859 red light violations were recorded on December 25, 2011. That figure was 40 percent lower than the average day last year.
  • The worst day of all was Friday, June 3 (at the start of the Memorial Day weekend), when no fewer than 8,231 drivers ran red lights. That figure was 28 percent above the daily average for the year.
  • You could be forgiven for thinking that more red light violations occur late at night, when no one is around to see, right? In contrast, it would be reasonable to assume that the fewest cases would occur in broad daylight. Those assumptions are the polar opposite of the facts revealed by the NCSR study, which found that 30.7 percent of red light-running offenses occurred between the hours of 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., while the fewest (9.75 percent) took place in the eight-hour block between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • The fact is, there’s no safe time to let your guard down when approaching a red light, if the NCSR study is anything to go by. For the full year, a staggering total of 2,341,761 drivers ran red lights at the monitored locations.

Who suffers?

The problem with drivers running red lights is that it is more often than not someone else who has to pay the ultimate cost. Figures released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that half of all the people killed in red light-running collisions are either pedestrians, bicyclists or occupants in other vehicles that were hit by the vehicle running the light.

In 2009 alone, 130,000 people across the U.S. were injured in crashes that involved a driver blowing a red light. Of that total, 676 people lost their lives. The problem is so prevalent that a NHTSA survey revealed 96 percent of Americans are afraid of being hit by red light runner.

Personal injury lawyers confirmed that when a driver runs a red light, the T-bone accident is one likely outcome. This type of crash causes injuries that are consistently more severe than in other types of accidents. The T-bone aspect of red light crashes also explains why occupant injuries are so much more likely than in other types of collisions. Almost half (45 percent) of red light-running crashes result in occupant injuries, compared with 30 percent in other types of accidents.

How do we stop these people?

The NHTSA is determined to stamp out the scourge of drivers who run red lights. They point to the fact that motorists in urban areas like Portland are more likely to be injured in crashes that involve a driver running a red light than in any other type of accident.

Drivers who run red lights are traditionally bad drivers in other ways as well, and safety clearly isn’t their top priority. The most recent statistics indicate that these drivers are more than three times as likely to have been caught speeding on more than one occasion.

Cameras at controlled intersections appear to be the best weapon in the fight against this dangerous behavior. The most recent statistics indicate that installing a red light camera reduces violations at that intersection by almost 50 percent. Even more importantly, the numbers of injury crashes at intersections declines by an average of 25 to 30 percent after cameras are installed.

It also appears that the vast majority of right-thinking drivers have no objections to red light cameras being installed at dangerous intersections. In fact, quite the contrary is true, as two-thirds of drivers surveyed in major U.S. cities said they support the use of red light cameras.

Running a red light is illegal, but even more importantly, it’s incredibly dangerous. Far too many innocent people are hurt every year by drivers in too much of a hurry to obey the most basic traffic law of all—stop on red.

If you or a member of your family has been hurt by a careless, foolish driver who ran a red light, don’t let them get away with it. At the very least, you shouldn’t have to cover your medical bills or lost wages; the driver who blew the red light should have to cover those costs.

Red light runners can be held civilly liable, in addition to whatever criminal charges they end up facing. To find out your rights in a case like this, speak with an experienced Portland car accident attorney who will fight for your rights fight to get you the compensation you need and deserve. In addition, by holding the red light runner accountable, you could be saving someone else from serious injury, or worse.