Traffic lights are often in place in high-traffic areas and seek to prevent motorists from running into one another. Still, drivers who ignore these traffic signals cause thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities every year. Statistics show that the number of people dying or suffering injuries because of red-light runners is on the rise across America, even though many communities have added red-light cameras to catch offenders.
Per the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motorists who ran red lights injured 139,000 people in 2018 and killed another 846. In about half of those fatal incidents, the people who died were not the red-light runners but rather other drivers, passengers, pedestrians or cyclists.
A common practice
How often do American motorists run red lights? According to the results of one study that lasted several months, in intersections that lack red-light cameras, drivers ran red lights about every 20 minutes. During high-traffic times, such as rush hour, these infractions became even more frequent.
Research also shows that many drivers are hypocritical when it comes to running red lights. The majority of American motorists, about 85%, say running red lights is “very” or “extremely” dangerous. However, about 30% of those who believe this also admit to having run a red light within the last 30 days.
How cameras help
Statistics show that communities that install cameras to catch red-light runners see fewer red-light violations and crashes. Several studies have shown that adding red-light cameras reduces associated violations by about 40%. Regarding fatalities, red-light cameras reduce those due to red-light runners by about 21% and other road deaths by about 14%.
Red-light runners continue to present a threat to everyone on the roadway. Studies show that the majority of Americans favor installing these cameras to help improve traffic safety. In one 2011 study, about two-thirds of Americans surveyed supported the use of red-light cameras. Another survey conducted a year later showed that about 87% of survey participants felt the same way.