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Running red lights becoming epidemic

By: Luigi Fraschini for Driving Today

Date: Thursday, 07. June 2007

Many drivers feel most endangered when traveling at high-speed traffic on Interstate highways, but they might be interested to learn the most dangerous place on the road might just be the busy corner in their own hometown. If that nearby intersection is regulated by traffic signals, odds are that it could be the site of a serious accident because thousands of drivers each day disobey traffic signals, failing to stop at red lights, and the toll of this carelessness is staggering.

Each year red light running crashes result in nearly 1,000 deaths and about 90,000 injuries nationally. And, sadly, things are getting worse. Between 1992 and 1998 red light crashes increased at an alarming 18 percent. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 96 percent of drivers fear being hit by a red light runner upon entering an intersection, yet 55.8 percent admit to running red lights.

The leading excuse cited by the red light runners is "being in a hurry!" This sense of entitlement--my time is more valuable than your safety--combined with a low expectation of being caught is responsible for rampant disrespect for the rules of the road.

But some believe there is an answer to this growing problem. They advocate the use of automatic cameras that will catch red light runners in the act and result in their being fined. Some say that red light cameras aren?t accurate or, worse yet, are a compromise of our Constitutional rights as Americans. But the California Board of Audits has completed its review of red light camera programs in California, finding the programs to be effective in reducing red light running crashes.

"Statewide collision data indicates a 10 percent drop in accidents caused by motorists running red lights in areas with red light cameras compared to no change in the number of accidents in other areas," the report says. The report also notes that red light running crashes have increased 14 percent in San Diego when the experimental camera program was suspended.

crowded highway Other studies of safety effectiveness in specific localities have also shown dramatic results. A recent audit of the San Diego program found that the number of crashes caused by motorists who run red lights dropped 44 percent at intersections with red light cameras. The red light camera program in Oxnard, California, has resulted in a 46 percent reduction in injury causing crashes involving signal or sign violations.

"Aggressive driving is not a right, and red light cameras present no threat of any sort to safe drivers," said Leslie Blakey, executive director of the National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running. "But, getting people to change their behavior requires consistent enforcement. With photo enforcement, we can reverse the trend toward this irresponsible behavior."

---Cleveland-based auto journalist Luigi Fraschini is always in a hurry, but he always manages to stop for red lights and for lunch.

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All Comments (25)

Showing 1 - 25 comments


Red light cameras can be useful, but once we nearly got a ticket for running a red light... just because of a left turner!

I really think that the money for red light cameras should be spent on education and healthcare instead.


Thank you for this article. I have used two sentences from it for a test-prep website called ACE the TOEIC(R) Test.

Jenny // Editor


k first, brenda mayo, ur just a little off topic and nobody cares that u hate children. second, beth and thomas1, ur both dumbasses and if either one of u actually had something to rush around on the roads about then you wouldnt be on the internet harrasing each other now would you?


Running red lights is very common in Louisville, KY. Not a day goes by when I don't see it happen several time.

I three occasions I've seen police witness the offense. Twice I got the attention of the officer, pointing to the car running the light. One turned away. The other shrugged his shoulders.

I thought I once read a highway report that Louisville was in the top ten cities as offenders. I cannot find it. Was I dreaming or is there a list?

John Deer,

Never ever drive in London, Ontario. If you wish to brave the drive here. You will most likely be in an accident here due to people thinking that yellow means speed up and red doesnt have a value.

Brenda Mayo,

Wearing a wig will keep you from dieing in a redlight crash.
I hate children.
And the world.
May god have mercy on our souls.


Yeah i think so too!
Running Red Lights is my worst fear!


i think people are just dumb


runnig red lights are bad!!!!!!!!!

Big Boy Brown,

I think that running red lights is stupid but it is stupid to slam your brakes on if you see a yellow.

The Duke,

Now we have not only road rage but computer road rage,amazing isn't it? but back to red light running,there are some places such as hills and bends that approach traffic lights where a sign says "prepare to stop when light is flashing"a light post is set up far enough ahead of the traffic light to give the driver enough time to stop by the time the light turns red,why not have one of these so many feet ahead of major traffic lights to warn drivers that the light is about to change,I believe this would work great for most people,but of course you will always get the idiot who will speed up to try to beat it,like those who speed up at a RR crossing to try to beat the train,so that is where the traffic camera comes in to catch that person speeding up to beat the light.


Yeah I'm not sure exactly when these comments were posted (Beth and thomas1) but I agree CalQ the article is about running red lights, not passing lanes. And what is up with Beth and thomas1 going at each other like! I'm 15 and just started drivers' Education just a little over a week ago and drive for the first time in the next two, and already I think Beth and thomas1 are taking the comments left on this article fare to seriously. For the sake of the gods you don't even know each other!


Fine Min, unless you are passing! and by the way, the article above is about running red lights, not passing lanes


Doesn't matter how fast you go in the left lane there is always someone who wants to go faster. I only go in the left lane when I'm passing other traffic, but theres still jerks who want everyone to get out of there way regardless. I'd like to see the cops jump on them and forget about ticketing someone speediing where there's no problem with it


My appologies Beth, you are right I did assume you applpied your make up while driving like most women do. I generaly do not pass judgement on people, only there actions and based on the fact that I dont know you,I am at fault. And please know this, I make no appologies for the way I drive, 25 years with out an accident or a ticket. As for you Rob I dont see anywhere in the above comments where I said I slow up the LEFT lane.You probably drive as well as you read.

Louis the freak,

Hey Rob, I'm waiting for you


Where do you people drive? Personally I don't have much problem at all with slow drivers in the left lane. Of course sometimes I have to be patient, and sometimes I have to go around ... Maybe it's my special training!!!


Hopefully he slows the left lane in front of me one day, he won't be able type for awhile.


thomas1, wtf is your purpose, you assume I apply makeup in the car, did you not??? And you surely do not know me. Before you TRY to sound intelligent, why not look at yourself first, you started the attack on me, I know it's hard for you but just read above. Have a mice day :)


Hello Beth,Is this your purpose in life? Is this what they teach you in the military, to judge poeple you dont know? To name call? Im impressed.


I knew that Thomas1 was one of those idiots, I was waiting for such a response. First of all you fat beer bellied, ass scatching monkey, I don't wear makeup, I am in the military. Second I get up with plenty of time to be where I am going but still hate the unemployed slow pokes (like you I am sure)who get out on the roads and hold up us people with a purpose in life. Just because people are keeping up with traffic doesn't mean they slept in. But judging by your uneducated, moronic response I would not expect you to understand. Also these accidents you see while driing, you are also one of those idiots who slow down even further to rubberneck too I am sure.


In case I did not mention it BETH, telegraph road is NOT a freeway. Are you from the area, do you know how the idiots drive on this road or any other in the area. Whats really funny is that If I am only driving 5 over the posted speed of 50mph I have all kinds of time to watch people drive 20mph over the posted speed limit. I also get to see these same people delayed by an accident they cause by being in such a hurry. I also get to see how frustrated these people become when they are held up by a simple fender bender becuase that person was in a hurry. I have drove the speed limit from my home to my work and then kept up with the traffic going 70 miles per hour for the same commute, guess what?? I saved 1:30 minutes by driving like an ass. Here is a tip for you Beth, wake up earlier, put your make up on at home and enjoy your commute, I'll bet you see a lot more than the back of the car you are tail gating.


You must be someone who clogs up the highway by not keeping up with traffice, you should be driving in the right lane, not the middle. "Slower traffice keep right"


Idrive a 12 mile lenth of telegraph road everyday. I mantain a speed of no more than 5 over in the middle lane. If the surronding traffic would not race between the red lights, I could most likley never use my brakes for the whole 12 miles. Its funny to me that these are people that you would here complaining about gas prices and how many times they have to take there care to get services because there brakes are wore out. I think that I sometimes go though a light when I could have stoped at it only to look in my mirror and 4 to 5 cars behind me dont even consider stopping. Do these people need to leave earlier so they are not in such a rush. But you know everyone is such a great driver, just ask. I dont understand. I have a job that requires me to drive all over the country, and from what I observe there is no worse place to drive than south east michigan, these people are the biggest idiots behind the wheel that I have ever witnessed. What the hell is the big hurry. Is there a wild fire somewhere. ME FIRST is the attitude you will find in this area, so if you enjoy your sanity, go elsewhere where no one is driving up your tale pipe and cutting in front of you constantly to get a few seconds ahead. That is my 2 cents.


I agree, don't run red lights but also don't slam on your brakes when it's yellow. Yellow means PROCEED with caution. Dumbasses

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