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Fatalities from Drivers Running Red Lights Hit 10-Year High

Next time you think about running a red light, consider these statistics. In 2017, 939 people were killed when someone plowed through a red light. That is at least two people a day!

A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that fatalities in red-light collisions increased in 2017, for the fifth year in a row.

In 2009, there were 715 people killed in accidents involving drivers running a red light. That’s an increase of 31% between 2009 and 2017.

This “study tracks anyone who was killed, including the driver, passengers, people in another vehicle or people outside the vehicle.”(USA Today) The study tracked the numbers back to 2008. Here are a few possible reasons for the increase:

  • Americans are driving more. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the number of miles traveled increased by 5% between 2008 and 2017.
  • Increased distractions on the roads. The recent rise of cell phones and in-vehicle infotainment systems could be contributing to the surge of drivers running red lights. Cell phones could also be the cause of pedestrians walking across the street when a light is red, causing them to be hit by an oncoming car.
  • Drivers intentionally speeding.

People know that driving through a red light is illegal. Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at the National Safety Council (NSC) says, “It’s frustrating because it’s so obviously preventable.”(

Who statistically runs red lights?

A 2017 telephone survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed that 93% of drivers said it’s unacceptable to run a red light if it’s possible to stop safely, but nearly 1 in 3 drivers surveyed admitted they have run a red light in the past 30 days.

“Among drivers involved in 2017 fatal red light running multiple-vehicle crashes, the red light runners were more likely than other drivers to be male, to be younger, and to have prior crashes or alcohol-impaired driving convictions. The red light runners also were more likely to be speeding or alcohol-impaired at the time of the crash and less likely to have a valid driver’s license.”(Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS))

Remedies to help reduce these numbers:

  • Signal timing. Increase yellow signal time, so that drivers have more time to slow down and stop for a red light.
  • More red light cameras. Since police can’t be everywhere, “cameras are connected to the traffic signal and to sensors that monitor traffic flow just before the crosswalk or stop line. The system continuously monitors the traffic signal, and the camera captures any vehicle that doesn’t stop during the red phase.” It is standard practice for these pictures or videos to be reviewed, and tickets are only issued once there is clear evidence that a vehicle actually ran a red light.

What YOU can do to help reduce the number of red light running crashes while driving:

  • Prepare to stop by taking your foot off the accelerator, and being ready to brake when coming to an intersection with a light.
  • Pay close attention. If a light you are approaching has been green awhile, prepare to stop.
  • Tap the brake a couple of times before stopping, to get the attention of the driver behind you, in case they are being distracted.
  • Drive defensively. After stopping for a red light, give a second before proceeding and look both ways, to be sure the cross traffic is stopped.

As a pedestrian, you can:

  • Give a few seconds after the light turns green before proceeding into the intersection.
  • Stay alert. Give your full attention to what is going on, and don’t wear headphones.
  • Be visible. Stay in well-lit areas, and wear bright colors at night.
  • Make eye contact with drivers in stopped vehicles to be sure they see you before crossing in front of them. (

The Law Offices of David L. Hood – Serving Car Accident Victims in South Carolina

If you have suffered a collision in South Carolina, the legal team at the Law Offices of David L. Hood will help you navigate the situation professionally. We have years of experience in helping people involved in serious accidents figure out the legal requirements and details needed to move forward after an accident. After gathering all the necessary information we will pour our efforts into building your case to get a fair settlement or take it to court if the need arises.

Our entire team has years of experience representing various clients and car accident victims in South Carolina. Having a passion to help, we offer a free initial consultation where we provide candid legal advice on what options you may have. If you choose to work with us, we promise a contingent-fee based case, where you don’t pay unless we get a recovery in your case.

You can find our contact information on the page here and schedule your free consultation session. From that moment until your case is closed, we will stay with you each step of the way in the fight to achieve justice for you and your family.


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