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The Dangerous Red Light Runner

Why Do People Run Red Lights?

Running a red light is one of the most dangerous acts one can commit on our roads.  In 2017, more than 900 people were killed in crashes caused by a red light runner.  That year represented a 10-year high.  The same AAA study that revealed those statistics included a survey of drivers.  85% of the respondents believed that running a red light was dangerous, yet nearly a third said they had run a red light within the prior month.  Over 40% said that they did not believe they would be stopped by the police for committing the act. 

It is illegal to run a red light, and if the act results in a fatal crash, the perpetrator could serve jail time.  

Criminal and Civil Implications

As we said above, and as everyone should know, it is against the law to run a red light.  In other words, it is a criminal offense. There may be civil law implications for committing illegal acts while driving as well.  If the illegal act results in a car accident that causes injuries or death, the negligent act of running a red light will result in civil financial obligations incurred by the criminal driver.  The red light runner (or their insurance) will be financially responsible for the injured party’s medical expenses, income loss, and pain and suffering.  

In some states, if there is proof that the driver violated a law in the course of an accident, that is all that is needed to establish negligence.  In other jurisdictions, the violation of the traffic law is looked at simply as a piece of evidence that the driver may have acted negligently.  Under either scenario, proving that a driver ran a red is almost always sufficient to establish his or her liability (legal responsibility) toward anyone injured.

How to Avoid a Red Light Accident

Red light running happens with disturbing frequency, and it is very dangerous.  Accidents caused by a red light runner are usually severe and often fatal.  That is because the runner often speeds up in an attempt to get through the intersection.  If an unsuspecting driver has already entered the intersection on a light that just turned green, the force of impact can be devastating.  It is probably safest to assume that there is a potential for a red light runner at every intersection.  

Here are some recommendations for drivers to avoid getting into an accident caused by red light running.  

Be on the Defense. Probably the best way to reduce your chances of being plowed into by a red light runner is to take a moment before you enter an intersection right after your light has turned green.  Look both ways to ensure that there are no light runners proceeding in the direction of travel that just received a red light.  Even as you approach a green-lit intersection, slow down a bit to scan the opposing traffic to ensure it is stopped before you sail through the green.

Approach an Intersection Preparing to Stop.  Take your foot from the accelerator and have it ready to engage the brake if you are approaching a “stale” green light.  Speeding up to a light that has been green for a long time could result in a bad last-minute decision.  A light that has been green for a long time is more likely to turn yellow as you approach the intersection.  

Before You Stop for a Yellow Light, Tap Your Brakes.  It is a good idea to tap your brakes a few times as you approach an intersection with a yellow light at which you intend to stop.  The driver behind you may think you intend to proceed and may crash into the rear of your vehicle.

Watch the YouTube video uploaded by the Federal Highway Administration on intersection safety.

Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer

Hello.  Thanks for reading our exploration of the dangers of running red lights.  I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento car accident attorney.  If you or a loved one have been injured in a car crash caused by a reckless or negligent driver, you may benefit from the free and friendly advice our injury lawyers can provide.  Call us at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.  Alternatively, you may reach out to us online.

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