At least two people die every day in the United States from drivers who run red lights. In 2017, more than 132,000 people were injured, and 890 were killed in red-light running crashes according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (I.I.H.S.).
Stopping at red lights in Connecticut is not a suggestion- it’s the law. With the recent passing of National Stop On Red Week, now is the perfect time for drivers across the country to get involved. All Connecticut drivers can do their part to reduce these unnecessary accidents by spreading awareness of how they occur and what motorists can do every day to prevent them.
Red Light Accidents Are Usually Fatal
Traffic lights were designed to reduce chaos and keep drivers safe. Even young children are trained on how to read traffic lights early on: green means ‘go,’ yellow means ‘slow,’ and red means ‘stop.’
However, traffic signals only save lives when motorists are paying attention and abiding by the rules of the signals. If drivers refuse to acknowledge red lights or are not paying attention, preventable accidents can lead to catastrophic losses.
The National Coalition for Safer Roads (N.C.S.R.) reports approximately 10,125 Americans were killed in red-light crashes between 2004 to 2016. More than half of theses fatalities were occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists who suffered from someone else’s mistake.
Red-Light Accident Trends
Certain situations are known for leading to more red-light accidents than others. After analyzing data from over 120 red light camera programs, the N.C.S.R. reports the following trends Connecticut residents should be aware of:
- More than 1.2 million red-light accidents occurred between the hours of 1 pm to 5 pm.
- May has the highest rate of red-light accidents.
- Friday is the deadliest day for red-light running, with some weeks seeing more than 660,000 incidents.
- Fourth of July is the deadliest holiday on the road, and this includes an increase in red-light runners.
In addition to the time you find yourself at an intersection, your chance of getting into a red-light accident can also be affected by the types of drivers around you. The I.I.H.S. reports drivers in the following groups are more likely to run red lights than others:
- Younger drivers.
- Male drivers.
- Drivers with past incidents of drunk driving.
- Drivers who speed.
- Drivers who do not have a valid driver’s license.
In a 2017 telephone survey conducted by the AAA, over 93 percent of participating drivers admitted that running red lights was unacceptable. Yet, 43 percent of the same drivers also reported running a red light within the last 30 days. Why are so many people running red lights?
How To Run a Red Light In CT
There is more than one way to run a red light in Connecticut. According to state law, motorists can be considered red-light runners if they commit any of the following violations:
Failing To Stop
The most obvious red-light violations occur when drivers continue to drive through a red light or stop sign while entering an intersection. Drivers most commonly make this error when they are distracted, impaired, fatigued, or attempting to beat a short yellow light signal.
Drivers should always come to a complete stop at a red light. This does not mean stopping in the intersection, but before the marked line indicating the start of the intersection.
Not Coming To A Complete Stop
Connecticut law allows motorists to make right turns on red lights after stopping first. Unfortunately, some drivers do not come to a complete stop. These incidents lead to right-of-way accidents, including:
- When oncoming cars hit vehicles rolling through red-lights.
- When cars make right-hand turns and strike pedestrians or bicyclists they did not look for until after turning.
- When cars make right-hand turns and get hit by vehicles who have the right-of-way when turning left in an intersection.
Making Illegal Right-on-Red Turns
Some drivers ignore or do not look for signs that prohibit turning right-on-red when approaching an intersection. When oncoming traffic is not expecting a car to go right on red, they are less likely to slow down. Drivers should be aware of intersections that prohibit rights-on-red to avoid surprising other motorists.
Making Illegal Left-on-Red Turns
Certain states allow drivers to turn left on red if they are entering into a one-way street; Connecticut is not one of them. Any driver who is turning left-on-red is putting others in danger. No one will be predicting this risky maneuver.
In addition to the possibility of taking a life, running through a red light could land Connecticut drivers with several fines, including:
- $129 for not stopping.
- $149 for fines and fees associated with the violation.
- Two demerit points on a driver’s record.
- License suspension if accumulating too many points.
- A reckless driving conviction if the violation is severe.
- A vehicular homicide charge if the red-light running accident results in death.
Red Light Cameras Save Lives
Both the I.I.H.S. and the N.C.S.R. fully support the use of red light cameras to help reduce the number of preventable inquires and fatalities in our communities. Studies have shown that large cities using these programs have reduced their red-light fatality rate by up to 21 percent. Red light cameras make drivers think twice about their behavior approaching an intersection, reducing their speed, increasing their concentration, and their awareness of the people and vehicles around them.
Connecticut law does not currently permit the installation of red light cameras to ticket drivers caught in violating the law, but that soon could change. Certain cities, such as Hamden, have preemptively installed traffic cameras to assist police officers in investigations that could double as red light cameras if the law change in the near future.
How To Avoid Running Red Lights
There are several reasons why a driver may run a red light, all in which are preventable. Connecticut motorists can help keep others safe on the road by following these simple recommendations for driving through intersections:
- Slow down. Drivers are less likely to cause accidents or run red lights when they are traveling at slow to moderate speeds.
- Do not speed up for yellow. Not all yellow lights are as long as others. Do not try to beat a yellow light- slow down instead.
- Stay alert. Distracted drivers can easily miss a light turning red if they are focusing on something else. Reduce the number of distractions in your vehicle and stay aware of the traffic lights on your commute.
- Drive sober. Drinking and driving impairs your judgment behind the wheel. Drunk drivers may think they can beat a yellow light or that they are stopping before an intersection begins when they are not. If you are not sober, don’t take the risk.
- Know the law. Not all intersections allow rights-on-red. If you are not sure, it doesn’t hurt to wait for the light to turn green. A few extra minutes at a traffic light could end up saving someone’s life.
Connecticut Personal Injury and Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved has been injured in a red-light accident due to the negligent acts of someone else, you may be eligible to receive compensation for any damages suffered. Contact our expert team of personal injury attorneys at Jacobs & Wallace for a free consultation to explore your options.