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What are the dangers of red light running?

Running a red light is not a mere traffic violation. In 2012, there were 683 fatalities and 133,000 injured persons in crashes involving a vehicle that ran a red light. Pedestrians, bicyclists and passengers in other vehicles comprised half of the deaths. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that running through red lights, stop signs and other traffic controls constituted 22 percent or the most common type of urban area auto accidents and that injuries occurred in 39 percent of accidents where a driver ran a traffic control.

Red light running occurs when a vehicle enters an intersection any time after the signal light turned red. Where a right turn on red is allowed, a driver may be a red light runner when the vehicle does not first come to a complete stop before the turn.

A right turn on red has dangers. Studies undertaken after states first allowed these turns revealed that these turns increased pedestrian and bicyclist accidents at intersections from 43 to 123 percent.

According to a 2013 telephone survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 93 percent of drivers agreed that going through a red light is unacceptable if it is possible to come to a timely stop. However, 35 percent of these respondents admitted to running through a red light in the previous 30 days.

A review of 2012 fatal red light running car accidents showed that the violators are more likely to be male, younger and have a history of earlier crashes or impaired driving convictions. These drivers were more likely to be speeding or alcohol impaired during the accident and less likely to have a valid driver’s license.

Red light cameras at intersections, which photograph these violators, have reduced the number of violators. Red light violations in the New York City are treated like parking violations in that the vehicle’s owner is responsible for the violation even if someone else was driving the car.Other effective countermeasures are the use of roundabouts instead of intersections and providing adequate yellow signal time.

Victims of these accidents may be entitled to compensation for serious injuries and other losses. Prompt advice should be sought because time restrictions apply to the filing of a civil action and victims should preserve their right to a lawsuit.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute, “Red light running,” Accessed Nov. 16, 2014