If it seems like some drivers have a loose interpretation of what a red light actually means, you might not be all that wrong. Drivers run red lights surprisingly frequently, putting you and everyone else at risk for serious injury. Red light accidents can — and often do — lead to devastating outcomes.
For example, red light runners killed 846 and injured another 139,000 people in 2018 alone. About half of the fatality victims were either bicyclists, pedestrians and people who were not in the same vehicle as the red light runner. These deaths and injuries were all in spite of efforts to discourage running red lights, such as police enforcement.
What is red light running?
Since some Pennsylvania drivers cannot agree on what constitutes running a red light, it might be helpful to clarify things. If a driver enters the intersection at any point after the light has turned red, then he or she is running the red light. The definition differs slightly for drivers who are turning right on a red light. These drivers must come to a complete stop before turning, otherwise they are also running the light.
In a 2018 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey, nearly a third of drivers admitted that they had run a red light at least once over the past 30 days. Since that same survey also found that 85% of drivers believe running a red light is extremely dangerous, it is clear that there is some overlap between those who know it is dangerous and those who do it anyway.
Red light running is common
When researchers surveyed five different busy intersections in a large city, they found that red light running was not at all uncommon. According to their data, a driver ran the red light at least once every 20 minutes. Another analysis of 19 intersections across four different states found that there are 3.2 red light violations every hour.
According to the AAA survey, it would be safe to guess that most of the red light runners in these studies fall into a similar demographic. Red light runners tend to be disproportionately male and young. They are also more likely to have prior collisions or drunk driving convictions.
What about yellow lights?
Yellow lights play an important role in addressing red light running. When yellow lights at a given intersection are longer, there are fewer red light violations. However, experts caution that simply lengthening the time of yellow lights without implementing other prevention methods is not enough to really address the problem.
Seeking compensation is often a priority for victims of red light accidents. This is because recovery can be expensive, especially when you factor in things like medical bills, lost wages and other damages. One of the most appropriate methods for recovering that compensation is to successfully navigate a personal injury claim.