Whether distracted, impatient or impaired, drivers who run red lights may pose a serious danger to themselves and others.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that, in 2019, 846 Americans died and 143,000 experienced injuries in collisions involving red-light running. Over half of those killed were bicyclists, pedestrians or individuals in other vehicles.
To avoid a potentially deadly crash, drivers should be especially cautious when approaching and passing through intersections.
1. Monitor how long a signal has been green
Speeding up to clear a yellow signal can easily pose a risk to other drivers or pedestrians who may expect approaching traffic to yield. If a light ahead has been green for some time, motorists should proceed with care when nearing the intersection.
2. Cover the brake
“Covering the brake” at intersections may give drivers a crucial advantage if a sudden change in traffic requires a fast reaction. As the motorist enters the intersection, holding the right foot just above the brake pedal may help to ensure that he or she is ready to stop quickly if needed.
3. Drive defensively
Drivers should not assume that others sharing the road will obey traffic laws. Even if a motorist has the right of way, it is a good idea to scan carefully for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who may be in or entering the intersection.
Unfortunately, it is often other motorists who pay the price for a red-light runner’s risky behavior.
According to the American Automobile Association, slightly over 35% of those killed in red-light crashes were the drivers themselves, while almost half (46%) were occupants in other vehicles. That makes it important that motorists remain alert for drivers and others who may be acting carelessly.