Rock Talk

The Dangers of Running Red Lights

Last updated on May 16, 2017 at 02:40 pm

Years ago, in my late teens, I was lost in my thoughts while driving. I don’t remember what I was thinking about, but I’ll never forget what happened next and the feeling I had afterward.

I ran a red light.

I didn’t realize what happened until it was over. At the opposing intersection to my left, I heard a car stopping short and a blaring horn. The traffic light in my rearview mirror was solid red.

This week, the Federal Highway Administration is raising awareness about the dangers of running red lights with National Stop on Red Week. Red light statistics from the National Coalition for Safer Roads shows this has, unfortunately, become a common problem:

  • Between 2004 and 2013, 7,800 people were killed from incidents involving running red lights.
  • In 2013, more than 697 people were killed and an estimated 127,000 were injured in crashes that involved running red lights.
  • One in three Americans know someone who has been injured or killed in a red-light running crash.
  • More than 3.7 million drivers in the United States ran a red light in 2014, with a large percentage of violations coming from summer travel periods.

When I ran a red light, no one was hurt. While I considered myself lucky (and still do), my stomach was flattened by the sinking realization of what happened. It’s been a long time since this happened; I was scared straight and it never happened again. Other people might have a story that’s similar to mine — but theirs might end differently.

Help keep our roads (and everyone on them) safe by staying focused on the road every time you drive and refraining from any activity that might divert your attention. Do you have a story about running red lights? What did you learn from it? Please, share it in the comments.

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