Red light running deaths hit 10-year high: report

Deaths from running a red light have hit a 10-year high, according to a new report released from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The data analysis indicated that more than two people are killed daily on U.S. roads by motorists driving through red lights. The most recent crash data shows 939 deaths from red-light running crashes in 2017, a 10-year high and a 28% increase since 2012.

“Drivers who decide to run a red light when they could have stopped safely are making a reckless choice that puts other road users in danger,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The data shows that red-light running continues to be a traffic safety challenge. All road safety stakeholders must work together to change behavior and identify effective countermeasures.”

Texas is tied with Kentucky for sixth in highest rate of deaths from running red lights. Between 2008 and 2017, according to crash report data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 971 deaths on Texas roadways, and nearly half of the reported deaths were occupants in another vehicle other than the one driven by the driver who allegedly ran the traffic signal.

Across the country, 46% of the deaths from the running of traffic signal crashes were passengers or people in other vehicles. A little over 35% were the drivers themselves, and more than five percent were pedestrians or cyclists.

One way to get drivers to comply with laws is through traffic intersection cameras. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the proper implementation of such cameras reduces the fatal red-light running crash rate in large cities by 21%.

“Deaths caused by red light running are on the rise,” said Jessica Cicchino, IIHS Vice President for Research. “Cameras increase the odds that violators will get caught, and well-publicized camera programs discourage would-be violators from taking those odds. Camera enforcement is a proven way to reduce red-light running and save lives.

AAA recommends drivers prepare to stop at intersections, use good judgment, tap the brake, and driver defensively. AAA also recommends pedestrians and cyclists wait, stay alert and listen, be visible, and make eye contact.