Car accidents have many causes. However, one of the most dangerous driver behaviors likely to lead to a collision is motorists going through red lights. A driver who goes through a red creates a significant risk of injuring himself or of injuring others. A motorist who fails to obey a traffic signal has clearly violated a safety rule and should be held accountable when his actions cause losses or damage to others.
Prevention of red light running accidents is an important goal because these accidents are so dangerous and cost many lives. During the first week of August, National Stop on Red Week was held. This was organized by National Coalition for Safer Roads, which teamed up with local community organizations to publicize the dangers of drivers going through signals without stopping at red lights. Although National Stop on Red Week is over for the year, drivers should remember the lessons learned all year and should be sure to always obey traffic signals so they can reduce the death toll of motor vehicle accidents.
Why It is So Important to Stop on Red
As part of National Stop on Red Week, a list of 10 reasons to always stop was published. This list contained details and facts about how many people are hurt or killed as a result of motorists who fail to stop when they are at a traffic signal that is red.
Most people know it is dangerous to go through a red light, and 76 percent of motorists who responded to a survey on the issue said it was “unacceptable” not to stop at a traffic signal. In the same survey, 55 percent indicated it was very dangerous to go through a light. Yet, 36 percent of the motorists said they personally drive through red lights sometimes.
Motorists may go through red lights despite knowing it is dangerous because they have done it in the past without issue or because they have seen others do it. A process called normalization occurs, which means as behaviors are undertaken and bad things do not occur, the true understanding of the risks of the behaviors wane. People start to think dangerous things are safe, just because accidents and injuries have not happened in the past.
When it comes to running a red light, however, it is never safe. An estimated 33 percent of all Americans know someone who has either been hurt or who has been killed in a collision as a result of a driver who ran a red light. In 2013 alone, 697 deaths and 127,000 injuries happened in crashes when drivers did not obey a traffic light and stop at the signal. From 2004 through 2013, 7,779 people lost their lives due to motorists who had run a red. In approximately half of these accidents, the victim was a pedestrian, a driver or passenger in another car hit by the light-runner, or was a bicycle rider.
The thousands of people injured or killed each year could be saved, if only every motorist would use National Stop on Red Week as a time to commit to never running a red light.