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The Dangers of Running Red Lights

We’ve all seen people run red lights. In fact, most of us have been guilty of doing it a time or two ourselves. Sometimes, drivers are distracted and don’t notice the signal has changed. Many times, busy drivers see a traffic signal changing and try to speed through the intersection to avoid having to stop and wait. Some people speed through red lights out of pure recklessness.

In most instances, no harm results. But in others, horrible crashes occur, resulting in personal injury and possibly even death. In this article, we’ll discuss the dangers associated with running red lights.

Statistics Demonstrate the Dangers

According to Smart Motorist, more than 800 people are killed each year – and more than 200,000 are injured – in crashes that occur when someone runs a red light. Research demonstrates that almost 6,000 people died in such crashes from 1992 through 1998, and approximately 1.5 million people were injured during the same time period.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted a review of red-light-running crashes that occurred between 2000 and 2016 and concluded that deaths caused by red-light-running had increased 17 percent since 2012. More than half of the people killed were not at fault, including numerous pedestrians and bicyclists. The city of Irving, Texas has published similar statistics.

While most of this data is somewhat dated, it demonstrates the long history of this problem. The conclusions include the following:

  • Crashes resulting from running a red light are more likely to cause death or serious injury.
  • Deaths caused by drivers running red lights are increasing three times as fast as fatalities from other types of crashes.
  • Red-light-running injures more people than any other type of crash.

Can Anything Be Done?

Many experts on this issue believe that red-light-running is often intentional, and therefore preventable. In fact, more than half of American drivers admit intentionally running a red light. A common suggestion is to implement the use of red-light cameras in intersections.

In fact, four major safety organizations – AAA, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the National Safety Council, and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety – encourage governments to take advantage of automated enforcement. They contend that red light cameras reduce serious accidents and save lives.

But some observers are questioning these conclusions. The National Motorists Association cites several news reports that found an increase in accidents at intersections with red light cameras. A Portland, Oregon KATU news report found that while T-bone accidents decreased, rear-end crashes increased 140 percent in the early 2000s. Apparently, more drivers slammed on brakes to avoid receiving a ticket.

Holding Red Light Runners Accountable

When a driver intentionally or negligently runs a red light and injures someone, the law will hold the driver accountable. Injured victims of such behavior can recover for property loss, medical expenses, lost wages, and other appropriate damages.

Call with Questions

At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, we applaud any effort to help make Oregon’s roads safer. Unfortunately, no matter what steps the government takes, there will be drivers who ignore the law and drive negligently.

If you have been injured due to a driver’s intentional or negligent decision to run a red light, we understand that you will probably have a lot of questions on how to proceed. Call us and we will be happy to answer them. Our experienced personal injury lawyers know the law and how to best protect your rights. And if you need an attorney, we can help you investigate your case and prepare it to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

We strongly believe that society can only be adequately protected when wrongdoers are held responsible for their negligent actions.