10-Year High in Number of People Killed by Red Light Runners

While every driver in the United States should know that “red means stop,” you may be surprised by the number of people who flippantly ignore that primary tenant of traffic safety. Red-light runners cause several deaths a year, which is sad considering just how preventable they really are.

In fact, according to a study by the Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA), the number of people killed by drivers running red lights has hit a staggering 10-year high. Nearly 1,000 people were killed in a single year due to red-light runners, which is a 30 percent increase from just a single decade ago.

What’s even more unfortunate is that a disproportionate number of people killed by those running red lights are passengers in vehicles that had no issue following traffic rules. Nearly half of the people killed were passengers or drivers of other cars.

What is Causing the Uptick in Deaths Due to Red-Light Runners?

While it’s natural to assume distracted driving to be the cause of the uptick, the truth may surprise you. The real culprit behind the increase in deaths caused by red-light running is improperly timed traffic lights. What’s possibly even more surprising is that the second most commonly cited reason for running a red light is that about two out of every five drivers think that the police won’t pull them over for driving dangerously (we’re sadly not making that up).

Red Light Collision Deaths are 100% Preventable

Just like DUIs, deaths resulting from running a red light are 100% preventable.

“Like crashes caused by those driving under the influence, crashes caused by red-light runners are 100 percent preventable crimes. Drivers who decide to run a red light are making a selfish and reckless choice that puts all of us on the roadways in danger.” – David Cohn of Chain | Cohn | Stiles

Red Light Cameras

Red-light cameras reduced red-light violations by 40% (according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). These cameras take pictures of vehicles that run red lights, then send said images to local law enforcement agencies for review.

In Bakersfield, the local police department reviews around 1,500 to 2,000 red light violations per month, according to The Bakersfield Californian. That makes for an average of 37 cited violations every single day. Here in Bakersfield, you’ll find red-light cameras at the following intersections:

  • Bernard Street and Oswell Street
  • Oak Street and California Avenue
  • California Avenue / New Stine Road / Stockdale Highway
  • Bundage Lane and Chester Avenue
  • Coffee Road and Stockdale Highway
  • Ming Avenue and Valley Plaza
  • Real Road and Ming Avenue
  • Ming Avenue and Old River Road
  • Wible Road and White Lane

Furthermore, the cameras at these intersections reduced collisions by more than 80% (according to a Kern County Grand Jury Report).

How To Avoid Accidents Caused by Red-Light Runners

There are also several things you can do both as a pedestrian and as a driver to help reduce the number of deaths caused by running red lights.

  • Drivers should monitor “stale” green lights — those that have been green a long time as you approach the intersection. They are more likely to turn yellow as you arrive at the intersection.
  • Prepare to stop. Lift your foot off the accelerator and “cover the brake” when preparing to enter any intersection by positioning your right foot just above the brake pedal, without touching it.
  • Use good judgment. Monitor “stale” green lights, those that have been green a long time as you’ve approached the intersection. They are more likely to turn yellow as you arrive at the intersection.
  • Drive defensively. Before you enter an intersection after the light has turned green for you, take a second after the light changes and look both ways before proceeding.
  • Tap the brake. Tap your brakes a couple of times before fully applying them to slow down. This will catch the attention of drivers who may be inattentive or distracted behind you.

Pedestrians (and Bicyclists)

  • Wait. Give yourself a few seconds to make sure all cars have come to a complete stop before moving through the intersection.
  • Be visible. Stay in well-lit areas, especially when crossing the street.
  • Stay alert and listen. Don’t take chances. Watch what is going on and give your full attention to the environment around you.
  • Make eye contact. Look at drivers in stopped vehicles to ensure they see you before crossing the road in front of them.
  • Never wear headphones or earbuds while commuting or talk on the phone.

Contact Us

If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of red-light runners, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.