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The dangers of running a red light

The vast majority of drivers in California and around the country feel that red light runners pose a serious threat to their safety according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to the federal agency, 97 percent of drivers worry about other road users ignoring a red light, and a 1999 survey conducted by Old Dominion University found that about a third of respondents say that they knew somebody who was injured or killed in an accident involving a red light runner.

Accidents at intersections often occur at high speed, and those involving a red light runner are particularly deadly. NHTSA statistics reveal that red light runners caused accidents that killed 762 people in 2008. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety points out that about half of the lives lost in these types of accidents are pedestrians or the occupants of vehicles struck by red light runners.

Unsurprisingly, drivers who run red lights tend to be younger and less adverse to risk. The IIHS cites a 1996 study of red light runners at a single intersection that found red light runners were less likely to wear seat belts and three times as likely to have a record of speeding convictions. Drivers who cause auto accidents by running red lights are also more likely to be male and frequently have a history of drunk driving.

Proving liability after a collision in an intersection often involves establishing which driver had the right of way at the time. Red light cameras can sometimes settle this question quickly, but not all traffic signals and intersections are equipped with this technology. When these cameras are not available, attorneys for injured victims may review police reports and witness statements to determine the sequence of events. They could also check the area for security cameras that may have captured the crash on video.

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