Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Running Red Lights – Why Are They Increasing So Much?
A sudden increase in red light running and the deadly accidents that result is a growing concern for drivers everywhere, especially in the state of Texas.
With the incidence of these accidents increasing substantially over the past decade, car accident attorneys as well as safety organizations in Texas and throughout the nation are struggling to find out why.
Although there are some valid theories, the one thing that auto accident lawyers do know for sure is that running a red light can be very deadly.
Red Light Running Accidents Increasing Not Decreasing
In spite of continuing efforts to improve traffic safety all over the nation, a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that the opposite is happening at least with accidents caused by red light running.
According to the report, fatalities in accidents caused by running a red light as of 2017 are at a 10-year high and now equate to 28% of all accidents occurring at intersections, a 28% increase in events since 2012.3
As of 2018, 139,000 people were injured and 846 people were killed in red-light-running crashes which equates to 2.32 people killed daily on US roadways because of someone's negligence while driving through intersections.2
Among those killed, 35% were the driver who ran the light, 46% were their passengers or passengers in other vehicles, and 5% were pedestrians crossing the road.2
Why Do So Many Run Red Lights Today?
The fact that incidence of red light running accidents has climbed so sharply in an 8-year period is alarming, to say the least.
It has many including personal injury lawyers who represent their clients in these cases a bit baffled.
Improvements in safety regulations like safer cars, safer roadways, and traffic laws constantly under review usually generate an improvement in accident numbers; however, in the case of running red lights, the AAA report suggests the opposite has happened.1
What everyone wants to know is why?
A few theories in need of additional research have surfaced to suggest some reasons why this could be happening:
- More Driver Distraction - Between cell phone use and on-board electronics, today’s drivers are more distracted than ever before and these distractions are responsible for the running of many red lights.
- Improperly Timed Yellow Lights - Longer yellow signal time has been shown to reduce red light running by 36% and when the yellow lights are too short or not properly timed according to the location, there is more red lights running.2
- Removal of Red Light Cameras - Red light cameras have been found to reduce red light running an additional 96% at intersections with properly timed yellow signals and removal of those cameras in some states has resulted in a dramatic uptick in red light running crashes, including Texas where incidence increased 23% when the cameras were removed in the Houston area.2
Drivers Must Stay Alert
Though more study is needed on these different theories concerning the increased incidence of red light running and associated accidents, lawyers in Texas who work with accident victims know one thing is certain: drivers must avoid distraction and pay close attention at intersections to avoid needing the services of a personal injury lawyer.
Don’t try to race the red light at any intersection or you may cause a deadly yet totally preventable accident!
1AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Driver Behavior & Performance: 2018 Traffic Safety Culture Index (TSCI), June 2019
2Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute Topics: Red Light Running, Updated February 2020
3U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Safety: Red-Light Running Overview, 2018