Running red lights is one of the most significant issues in traffic safety. It is often overlooked, because most incidents of red-light-running do not have consequences, but the reality is that running red lights kills hundreds of people and injures thousands every year, and it is entirely needless (Oberhauser, 2012).
The Federal Highway Administration (2003) notes that red light running is "one of the primary causes of crashes at signalized intersections." In 2001, The FHWA recorded 218,000 crashes in the United States that stem from running red lights. These crashes resulted in 181,000 injuries and 880 fatalities. There was an economic loss of around $14 billion per year from red light running. These costs are almost entirely avoidable. To better understand the problem, it is important to understand some of the root causes of running red lights.
The problem is constant. The FHWA conducted studies that revealed incidents of red light running can be as high as 18 violations per hour at a given intersection. It also noted that the problem is worsening, with an increase of 15% in the number of red light running incidents in the past four years. The Administration also notes that 47% of red light running crashes result in injuries, higher than for other crash types (FHWA, 2003). Worse, it is endemic. A total of 56% of American...
The first is an angle crash, the classic T-bone where the red light runner hits cross-traffic (proceeding on a green) in a perpendicular manner. The second type is the turning crash, where a person running a red light hits the ongoing vehicle that was making a left turn. The third type of crash is a rear end collision, where the front car stops abruptly to avoid the red light while the trailing vehicle is speeding up to run the light (FHWA, 2003).
In a study in the congested city of Kuala Lumpur, Radzi (2011) notes that there are three key variables that lead to red light running. The first is traffic volume, the second is dilemma zone conflicts and the third is lane classification. The study notes that 82% of red light running comes as the result of zone dilemma conflicts. These are identified as a driver being a zone of not knowing exactly whether to stop or to proceed. Such conflicts are marked by abrupt stops, accelerating through the amber and red-light running. The data in the study also shows that traffic volumes contribute significantly to the incidence of red-light running. When traffic volumes are high, drivers are more likely to experience zone dilemma conflicts and they are more likely to run a red light.
The FHWA also notes that there "are elements of driver psychology," likely of the same type that leads to more red-light running during times of high traffic volume. The FHWA notes that drivers who run red lights are more likely to be under 30 years…
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