ST. GEORGE — Utah has the 10th highest rate of crashes caused by running red lights, which kills more than two people every day on U.S. roads.
The most recent crash data available shows 939 people were killed in crashes involving red light running in 2017, a 28% increase since 2012, according to data analysis performed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
“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,” David Yang, executive director of the foundation, said.
With the number of red light-running crashes on the rise, AAA calls for drivers to use caution when approaching intersections, and for pedestrians and cyclists to stay alert when crossing the street.
The AAA Foundation also says that red light runners are responsible for 28% of crash deaths that take place at signalized intersections.
Moreover, nearly half of those killed in crashes involving a driver running a red light are passengers or people in other vehicles, and more than 5% were either pedestrians or cyclists.
“Deaths caused by red light running are on the rise,” Jessica Cicchino, Insurance Institute of Highway Safety’s vice president for research, said in a statement.
While Arizona ranked number one in the number of red-light running fatalities, Utah came in at number 10.
The AAA study also found that 85% of drivers view red light running as very dangerous, yet nearly 30% say they blew through a red light within the past 30 days, and nearly half think it’s unlikely they’ll be stopped by police for running a red light.
Research shows that red light runners are more likely to be male, and younger, and were more likely to be speeding or alcohol-impaired at the time of the crash. They were also less likely to have a valid drivers license. They are likely to have prior crashes or alcohol-impaired driving convictions as well.
There is an ever-present option that has proven to reduce the rate of fatalities caused by red-light runners by more than 20% and all crashes at intersections by nearly 15% – red light cameras, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
“Cameras increase the odds that violators will get caught, and well-publicized camera programs discourage would-be violators from taking those odds,” Cicchino.
AAA says proper implementation of red-light cameras helps to ensure drivers’ safety.
Red light cameras automatically photograph vehicles that go through red lights and are connected to sensors that monitor traffic flow just ahead of the crosswalk or stop line. Traffic signals are continuously monitored with cameras, capturing any vehicle that doesn’t stop during the red phase with a half-second grace period after the light turns red.
AAA recommends drivers prepare to stop by lifting their foot off the accelerator and hovering it over the brake pedal just before entering any intersection, as well as tapping the brakes a couple of times before fully applying them to catch the attention of trailing drivers who may be inattentive or distracted.
The foundation recommends monitoring “stale” green lights while approaching an intersection, or those that have been green a long time and are more likely to turn yellow. Taking a second before entering an intersection after the light has just turned green to check for any oncoming cars before proceeding is also recommended.
Pedestrians and cyclists should also remain alert while traveling near intersections and make eye contact with drivers before entering any intersection. The foundation also recommends that riders refrain from wearing headphones, which can muffle noises that could serve as an alert to danger. Riding in well-lit areas and being visible is also key.
Under Utah Law, those caught running through a red light will be ticketed. The penalties can be severe and include a 50-point addition to the driver’s record.
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