According to analysis of crash data by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the number of people killed as the result of drivers running red lights has spiked sharply in recent years. More often than not (almost 65 percent of the time), the victim is not the offending driver.

According to analysis of crash data by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the number of people killed as the result of drivers running red lights has spiked sharply in recent years. More often than not (almost 65 percent of the time), the victim is not the offending driver.

Statistics indicate that red light running crash deaths jumped almost 30 percent between 2012 and 2017 (the most recent crash data available) with impatient, distracted and reckless behavior claiming at least two lives every day across the U.S.

Red Light-Running in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, more than 3,000 crashes occurred in 2018, due to drivers sailing through signal lights.

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.

Tecumseh Police Chief J.R. Kidney said he believes some of the rise in crashes comes more and more from distracted drivers.

“I believe the distractions are coming from the phone,” he said. “(From) texting and checking the phone while driving.”

He said in about every third car on the road someone is on the phone.

“I wish there was a way to make it where our phones wouldn't work if the car is in motion,” Kidney said.

Nationally

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,” Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said. “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.”

Driving

Drivers can take the following actions to prevent red light running:

Take the pledge to stop driving distracted — glancing at the phone for five seconds while driving is comparable to traveling the length of a football field blindfolded. That’s all it takes to run a red light.

Prepare to stop — lift the foot off the accelerator and hover over the brake when preparing to enter any intersection.

Use good judgement — monitor stale green lights, those that have been green a long time while approaching an intersection. They are more likely to turn yellow.

Tap the brake — tap the 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.

Drive defensively — before entering an intersection after the light has turned green, take a second after the light changes and look both ways before proceeding.

Walking

Pedestrians and cyclists should also stay safe when traveling near intersections.

Wait — give it 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 full attention to the environment.

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.