How often have you noticed another vehicle speeding past you or accelerating through a yellow light, only to find both of you waiting at the next stop?
Exceeding the speed limit to “beat the light” is illegal and could result in dire consequences.
According to the National Coalition for Safer Roads, in 2013, 127,000 people were injured and 697 people were killed in accidents caused by red light runners. Between 2004 and 2012, more than 7,000 people were killed in accidents involving drivers running red lights.
In Arizona, red light running is a serious problem. The National Coalition for Safer Roads ranked cities with the highest number of fatalities due to red-light running from 2004-2013. Tucson ranked 9th and Phoenix ranked second on the list of the 10 Most Dangerous Cities for Red Light Running.
And like drivers in DUI accidents, the red light runner who causes a collision isn’t always the one most seriously injured. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that half the fatalities caused by red light runners are pedestrians, bicyclists and occupants in other vehicles.
Who is the Typical Red Light Runner?
What driver is most likely to be running a red light? A 1996 study by the National Insurance Institute found that the red light runners were younger drivers who had poor driving records. In a 2013 study of red light running car crashes that involved fatalities, the Institute found that “the red light runners were more likely than other drivers to be male, to be younger, and to have prior crashes or alcohol-impaired driving convictions.”
Know the Red Light Rule in Arizona
Arizona applies the “permissive yellow rule” to red light running infractions. The Federal Highway Administration defines the rule as:
- Driver can legally enter intersection during entire yellow interval
- Violation occurs if driver enters intersection after onset of red
The ramifications of causing a car accident at an intersection can be catastrophic for its victims and result in serious consequences for the offending driver. A driver who is found to have been recklessly speeding through an intersection, running a red light and causing a fatal car accident puts himself at risk of being charged with manslaughter or negligent homicide.
Research on driver attitudes towards red light running shows that there’s a disconnect between what most drivers know they should be doing and what they actually do.
A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that although more than half of drivers interviewed agreed red light running is a “very serious threat” and more than 72% agreed it is “unacceptable,” more than a third of drivers admitted to running a red light in the previous 30 days.
Experts say that to stop red light running, drivers need to slow down, limit distractions, and stop on red. It may save lives.