You’re driving down the road, approaching an intersection with a traffic light. The signal facing you turns red. What do you do? This is not a trick question; you stop before you enter the intersection. Yet too many people fail to do just that. This article will provide 10 reasons why stopping on red is vital, and suggestions on what we can do to be safer.
National Stop on Red Week
August 4-10, 2013 is National Stop on Red week. It is a time to raise awareness about the dangers of running a red light. An estimated 165,000 motorists, cyclists and pedestrians are injured annually by red-light runners, and half of the people killed are not the red-light running drivers, but passengers, other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. With a wealth of statistics about injuries, fatalities, and the cost to society, it is clear that individuals and society get hurt when someone runs a red light.
Everyday we drive to work, to the grocery store, to see a friend; and, most every day we see someone try to “beat” the light at an intersection. That person may be late for a meeting, or anxious to get home, or tired. Any number of excuses may be given when running a red light. Those excuses do not excuse the risk and danger it places us all in. Too often when someone runs a red light there is a close call, and many times, someone does get injured, or worse, killed.
Several years back, I was on the jury of a vehicular homicide trial. The defendant, while driving a garbage truck, ran a red light, hitting a Wonder Bread truck that was turning left. The victim didn’t have a chance. During the trial, a number of facts were in contention, but one fact not contested was that the defendant was generally a good person and was personally devastated by the death he had caused. It wasn’t his intention to get up that morning and take another person’s life. He now has to live with the results of his actions for the rest of his life.
Top 10 Reasons
The National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) has put together a list of ten reasons to Stop on Red:
10. In 2009, 676 people were killed in crashes that involved red-light running.
9. About half of the deaths in red-light running crashes are pedestrians, bicyclists and occupants in other vehicles that are hit by the red-light runners.
8. The T-bone intersection crashes caused by red-light runners result in the most severe injuries.
7. A 2005 review of red-light camera studies around the world concluded that cameras reduce red-light violations by 40-50 percent and reduce injury crashes by 25-30 percent.
6. Motorists in urban areas are more likely to be injured in crashes involving red-light running than in any other type of crash.
5. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that most Americans—96 percent—are afraid of being hit by a red-light runner.
4. Red-light runners are more than three times as likely as other drivers to have multiple speeding convictions on their driver records.
3. Occupant injuries occurred in 45 percent of red-light running crashes, compared with 30 percent of other crash types.
2. Two thirds of drivers in 14 big U.S. cities with longstanding red-light camera programs support their use.
1. Red-light running is dangerous.
Make the Decision
Everyone knows running a red light is dangerous, but it still happens. So now the question: What can you do to make a difference? Again, the answer is easy.
- Decide now that you will always be prepared to Stop on Red as a driver, cyclist, or pedestrian.
- Obey speed limits so you have time and space to stop prior to entering the intersection.
- When the light turns green, look in all directions for red-light runners before proceeding, whether driving, cycling or walking.
While you’re driving, remember that nothing is that important to put your life or the life of another at risk. Being a couple minutes later than planned will not be the end of the planet. But running a red light could be the end of a life. Red-light running is dangerous. Remember, Stop on Red.
How about you? Have you almost been in a crash because someone ran a red light?
 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Status Report, Vol. 42, No. 1. Rep. IIHS, 27 Jan. 2007. Web. http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr4201.pdf
 Read the Federal Highway Administration’s Red-Light Running Brochure: “Ten Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About Red-Light Running.”
 If You Run a Red Light You are Betting More than You can Afford to Lose, Federal Highway Administration Brochure, FHWA-SA-11-010.
- SEMCOG: Red-Light Running Increasing As Factor In Fatal Traffic Crashes (detroit.cbslocal.com)
- Delaware’s intersections are deadly, but solutions are hard to come by (roadtrafficsigns.com)