ST. GEORGE — The St. George Police Department is cracking down on drivers who fail to obey traffic lights.
Officers have been participating in citywide red light enforcement efforts for over a week and will continue the initiative through January. So far, a number of violations have already been issued.
Officer Andrew Mickelson said law enforcement has cited several drivers at the intersection of River Road and St. George Boulevard. The police department is approaching this enforcement period with a “zero-tolerance policy,” Officer Tiffany Atkin said.
The idea came about after the police department and the city began to notice an increase in the number of drivers who proceed through an intersection with a red light, she said. So the two entities teamed up to place additional focus on patrolling busy intersections where officers have noticed the increase.
“Consequences are a little bit greater if someone runs a red light and causes a crash,” Atkin said. “We’re going to try to concentrate on that for the month of January.”
Although there is going to be a greater emphasis placed on drivers who fail to obey traffic lights, officers will still be on the lookout for other traffic violations.
Drivers approaching an intersection must come to a complete stop prior to entering a crosswalk or reaching a marked stop line if the traffic signal exhibits a red light.
Although some states prohibit drivers from entering an intersection once the light has turned yellow, Utah officials see the solid yellow light as a warning that the signal will soon be red and allow drivers to enter the intersection up until the light turns red.
Riders operating motorcycles, mopeds and bikes have some specified parameters. When a signal that uses sensors to detect the presence of a vehicle waiting at a red light doesn’t notice a rider because of the size of their vehicle, the rider can proceed without a green light.
In order to avoid a ticket, however, the motorist must come to a complete stop at the intersection, wait at least 90 seconds and ensure there are no other vehicles who have the right of way or pedestrians crossing the street. Once riders have done all of these things, they can cautiously proceed through the intersection.
“Remember that it’s only around a minute and a half average,” Atkin said. “I don’t know what that equates in what you make an hour or a minute, but I guarantee it’s not as much as a citation is going to be.”
Mickelson said the city sees roughly four to five collisions each month that involve a driver who admitted to or obviously ran a red light.
Under the law, drivers who ignore a red light can be issued a citation with a fine of over $100. The citation also adds 50 demerit points to the individual’s driving record, which could result in the motorist’s license being suspended if they have accumulated 200 or more points in a three-year period.
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