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TOLEDO, OH - The number of people killed as the result of impatient and distracted drivers running red lights has spiked sharply in recent years, according to analysis of crash data by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. And, more often than not (almost 65 percent of the time), the victim is not the offending driver.
“This disturbing trend impacts everyone on our roadways – drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians,” says Edgar Avila, AAA spokesperson. “It is critical that all parties understand this increased risk and adjust their behaviors accordingly.”
“Defensive driving and limiting distractions is something we teach students of all ages every day,” says Avila. “You cannot control the bad behavior of other drivers but you can change your own behavior to minimize risk.”
Statistics indicate that red light running crash deaths jumped almost 30 percent between 2012 and 2017, the most recent crash data available, with the impatient, distracted, and reckless behavior claiming at least 2 lives every day across the US.
The most recent crash data available shows 939 people were killed in red light running crashes in 2017 -- a 10-year high.
“Drivers who decide to run a red light when they could have stopped safely are making a reckless choice that puts other road users in danger,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The data shows that red light running continues to be a traffic safety challenge. All road safety stakeholders must work together to change behavior and identify effective countermeasures.”
According to the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index, 85 percent of drivers view red light running as very dangerous, yet nearly one in three say they blew through a red light within the past 30 days when they could have stopped safely.
Red Light Running in Ohio
According the AAA Foundation analysis of state data, Ohio has a lower than average rate (2.0/M) of red light running fatalities per year as compared to other states nationwide (2.4/M), and a lower rate than neighboring states of Kentucky (3.4/M), Indiana (3.0/M) and Michigan (2.9/M). Only Pennsylvania (2.0/M) and West Virginia (.9/M) are equal or below Ohio’s average rate.
In Ohio, there were nearly 230 (229) people killed as the result of drivers running red lights over the 10-year period analyzed by the AAA Foundation (2008-2017).
To prevent red light crashes, Drive Defensively, #DontDriveIntexticated and other tips from AAA:
- Limit Distractions – previous AAA Foundation research indicates that driver distraction from, as an example, hands-free texting or dialing while sitting at a red light, can linger for up to 27 seconds after hitting send. Intersections require a driver’s full attention. #DontDriveIntexticated!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 cyclists should also stay safe when traveling near intersections. AAA recommends:
- Wait: Give yourself a few seconds to make sure all cars have come to a complete stop before moving through the intersection.
- Stay Alert and Listen: Don't take chances and don't wear headphones. Watch what is going on and give your full attention to the environment around you.
- Be Visible: Stay in well-lit areas, especially when crossing the street.
- Make Eye Contact: Look at drivers in stopped vehicles to ensure they see you before crossing the road in front of them.
About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Ohio. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, non-profit corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.