Cleveland, Ohio saw the first electric traffic light installed on August 5th, 1914, and reckless drivers have been running through them without stopping ever since.
These days, failure to stop at a traffic control device such as a red light or stop sign can cause severe accidents that seem to happen out of nowhere, and a red-light runner often leaves victims facing major damage to their vehicles and with severe injuries, as well.
Here’s what all drivers on the road should be aware of regarding red-light accidents, including statistics, common causes of accidents, and how to get legal help if you’ve been hurt.
Red-Light Accident Statistics
Running a red light is a serious offense in just about every state, including Texas. Penalties can include points on the driver’s license, large fines, and even a suspension of his or her license, especially if the driver has a prior history of traffic violations. Insurance rates can go up, too, as insurers aren’t keen on taking on the additional risk of a reckless driver.
All that punishment is relatively minor, though, compared to dealing with the aftermath of an accident. Data collected by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Loss Data Institute shows that in 2016, drivers failing to stop at red lights resulted in the deaths of 811 people. The Institute estimates that in 2015 there were 137,000 people injured by red-light runners, as well.
Common Causes of Red-Light Accidents
While there are as many excuses for running a red light as there are drivers on the road, there are a few common threads that stand out when it comes to accidents caused by running a red light. Some of the most frequent types of red-light accidents include:
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving has been in the national consciousness more than ever, especially since cell phones have become more common. People talking on the phone, texting, or otherwise interacting with a smartphone, navigation unit, or other digital device are at major risk for running a red light. Eating or drinking, smoking, talking to passengers, or dealing with unrestrained pets in the cabin are other common distractions that can cause an accident.
- Trying to beat the light. Drivers who see a yellow light and accelerate to try and make it through the intersection in an unsafe manner often end up causing accidents, especially when there is oncoming traffic that has the right-of-way to make a left-hand turn. This can result in a broadside accident or a devastating head-on strike depending on the position of the cars at the time of impact.
- Drunk driving. Driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or even certain prescription drugs can cause visual problems, inattention, sleepiness, and loss of reflexes. An intoxicated driver may not see or be able to stop for a red light in time, or may misinterpret a traffic signal, barreling through the intersection at full speed.
Running a red light may be a sign of aggressive or even reckless driving behavior, leading to poor judgement of distances and timing at the intersection. A driver in the grips of road rage may drive erratically and recklessly, ignoring lane markings, obstacles, and traffic control devices until he or she regains emotional control—or causes a severe accident.
Get Legal Help Today
If you are involved in an accident with someone who has run a red light, try and stay calm at the scene. Make sure that you and your passengers are okay and contact 911 immediately if anyone is hurt or there is anything more than minor damage to a vehicle. You may also wish to reach out to an attorney for help. A personal injury attorney can help you pursue full compensation for your medical bills and follow-up care, physical therapy or rehabilitation, repair or replacement of your vehicle and personal property, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
To reach out to an experienced legal professional after your accident, call Wayne Wright LLP today. Our attorneys and staff have been standing up for the rights of those who have been injured by negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing for years, and we’re here to help you and your family seek the justice you deserve in a court of law. Reach out to us by telephone, use our online contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page to arrange your free, no-obligation consultation with a legal professional today.