Red light deaths at 10-year high

Red light deaths at 10-year high
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The number of deaths caused by drivers running red lights has hit a 10-year high, sparking AAA to urge both drivers and pedestrians to exercise increased caution at traffic signals.

AAA told The Associated Press that two people are killed every day by drivers who don’t stop for signals. It added that, according to a study of the most recent data available, 939 people were killed in 2017 by vehicles blowing through red lights. AAA says that’s the highest death toll since 2008, and 28 percent higher than 2012.

“Drivers who decide to run a red light when they could have stopped safely are making a reckless choice that puts other road users in danger,” David Yang, executive director of AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, told the AP. 

AAA also told the news service that it found that 28 percent of crash deaths at intersections with signals occurred because a driver passed through a red light. 

The association said it is unsure why the numbers are on the rise, particularly considering that the total number of highway fatalities has only increased 10 percent since 2012. 

Brian Tefft, a senior researcher for the AAA Foundation, told the AP that the fact that more people are driving farther distances since the Great Depression does not account for the spike in red-light deaths. He suspects that distracted driving, along with poorly timed traffic lights, plays a role. 

“I wish we had a better answer than we do,” he said, adding that the answer likely lay beyond the bounds of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s study of fatal crash data.

To reverse the rise, AAA recommended that governments boost the use of red light cameras to increase enforcement. It encouraged drivers to tap their breaks when approaching a light to warn other drivers of a possible stop and waiting for a moment after a light turns green to proceed through an intersection.

AAA urged pedestrians and cyclists to try to remain visible, make eye contact with drivers if possible and avoid wearing headphones while walking or riding.