Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
Office (502) 782-1780
National Stop On Red Week Is August 27- Sept. 2
Date of Release: 08/26/05
(FRANKFORT, KY) - As part of National Stop On Red Week, from August 27 through Sept. 2, the Kentucky State Police is reminding motorists to slow down, use caution, be alert and obey all traffic signs and signals when approaching street and roadway intersections when driving.
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), more than 1.8 million crashes occur each year in intersections. In 2003, about 206,000 were due to red light running --- resulting in about 934 fatalities and approximately 176,000 injuries.
"Nationally, red light running is the leading cause or urban crashes today and it's increasing," says KSP Commissioner Mark Miller. "Overall, 55.8 percent of Americans admit to running red lights and 96 percent of drivers fear they will get hit by a red light runner when they enter an intersection."
"Unfortunately, to many drivers, the yellow warning light that precedes a red signal hardly means caution anymore," adds Miller. "Too often, they behave as if it means hurry up."
This hurry up factor is the biggest reason for the continued increase in intersection crashes across the country. The FHWA reports that nearly half (48.7) of red light runners interviewed admitted to being prompted by nothing more than being in a hurry.
In addition to their increasing frequency, red light running crashes are also more severe. According to KSP Lt. Eric Walker, commander of the Governor's Highway Safety Program, if you're in an ordinary vehicle crash, your chances of being injured are about 30 percent. However, your chances of being injured increase to about 45 percent if a driver running a red light collides with your vehicle.
"Drivers running a red light are often accelerating, trying to beat the light, so the resulting crashes are more damaging," says Walker. "Impact rises dramatically with speed. When a driver speeds up from 40 miles per hour to 60 miles per hour, the vehicle's speed increases 50 percent. The energy released in the crash increases more than 200 percent."
Walker suggests one defensive tactic you can use to reduce the chances of being hit by a red light runner. When stopped at a traffic light, take one more look each way before proceeding when the light turns green. Many drivers consider a yellow light as the last chance to get through an intersection rather than a caution signal.
"Not many people think of themselves as criminals or killers," concludes Miller. "Yet deciding to run a vehicle weighing thousands of pounds through a red light is morally similar to shooting a gun into a crowd of people. You might not hit someone, but the odds are high that you will."