Even if you are a responsible driver who exercises care when navigating signaled intersections, you still face a high risk of a deadly crash when making your way through these areas. The number of people killed by motorists who run red lights across Minnesota and the nation is at its highest in 10 years. The sharp increase raises important questions about what it takes to enhance safety.
According to Minnesota Public Radio, red-light runners are responsible for 28% of all traffic deaths that occur at signaled intersections. How common are crashes caused by red-light runners, and is there anything that might help keep you safe when driving through them?
Red-light crash statistics
Nationwide, 939 people lost their lives in wrecks caused by drivers who ran red lights in 2017 alone. Since 2012, the number of all traffic fatalities has risen 10%. However, the number of fatal crashes caused by red-light runners rose 28% within this same span. Though safety advocates must perform more research to determine what is responsible for the uptick, there are several theories about what may be contributing to the sharp rise.
Some researchers attribute the rising risks you face in signaled intersections to the same few elements. Poorly timed traffic lights are one possible contributor. Some believe that, in many communities, traffic lights, and specifically, yellow lights, do not stay yellow long enough for you or others to safely navigate an intersection.
The increase in distracted driving is also a likely contributor. When drivers use cellphones or in-vehicle technologies while driving, it may make them less aware of their surroundings and more apt to run red lights.