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Are some drivers treating red lights like a suggestion?

When you see a red traffic light, you know to stop. These traffic control devices regulate the flow of traffic and help ensure everyone gets to where they are going safely and without incident.

If everyone knows this, why are so many drivers treating red lights like suggestions instead of as a directive? The AAA Foundation's Traffic Safety Culture Index indicates that, in the past 30 days, one out of every three drivers drove right through a red light instead of stopping.

Running red lights is on the rise

The last full data on this subject comes from 2017. In that year, 939 people lost their lives due to accidents in which a driver failed to stop at a red light. This number includes everyone -- offending drivers, passengers in both vehicles and drivers of the other vehicles involved. The number of deaths represents a substantial increase over a 10-year period from 2008 to 2017. What does that mean in terms of percentages? It means that the number of people killed in red-light-running crashes rose 31%, which is significant.

Why are so many people running red lights these days?

Even though no one can pinpoint one cause, it appears that the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has some highly plausible theories:

  • More people are driving. Federal Highway Administration data indicates that the number of miles traveled over the time period researched increased by approximately 5%.
  • More people deal with distractions while driving. People can't seem to resist using in-vehicle infotainment systems and other technologies when they should worry about paying attention to the road.
  • More people use cell phones. The increase in the use of cell phones seems to increase the odds of crashes, including those caused by a vehicle running a red light.

The people suffering severe and fatal injuries are more likely in the vehicle with the green light than in the vehicle that ran the red light. If you happen to be one of those who suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one because another driver failed to obey a red light, your life could easily change forever.

The costs associated with such tragedies are also a concern. You could feel the financial impact long after your injuries heal. Fortunately, you may be able to recover those financial losses by pursuing compensation from the driver believed to be at fault.

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