Red light accidents are on the rise, according to a study by the American Automobile Association (AAA). Over 900 people were killed in a single year from crashes where a driver ran a red light, a 10-year high.
Most of us are “connected” in some degree or another while driving, whether it’s texting or talking on the cellphone. Even with a headset in place to keep your hands free, a phone conversation is still a natural distraction. And what if you don’t know where you’re going and rely on the phone’s GPS system? That can be another reason to look somewhere besides the road.
This is not a problem confined to teenage drivers. The AAA study found that nearly 1/3 of all drivers have run a red light in the last month. And that figure is simply those that are aware of their violation and will admit to it.
The same study shows that 85 percent of those drivers acknowledge the real dangers of running a red light, so heightened awareness of the rise in fatalities might not be enough to solve the problem. AAA recommends some tactical changes to increase safety—like tapping the brakes to alert the potentially inattentive driver behind you that a stop is coming.
It’s also imperative that drivers who have the green light take their time and be sure no one is barrelling through the red. Even if you have the right of way, the data says you have a 44 percent chance of being the fatality in an accident.
Ultimately, we all need to dial back the pace. The world won’t end if a text isn’t answered in the next 15 minutes. Or if we’re a few minutes late to our destination, even if it’s at work. Let’s extend the same courtesy to others, so they don’t feel rushed. Let’s all stay in the moment, stop at the red light and be safe.