John Townsend
Public Relations Manager, DC
O: (202) 481-6820 (ext. 4462108)
C: (202) 253-2171
jtownsend@aaamidatlantic.com

Media Note: B-roll is available here and here.

 

WASHINGTON, D. C. (Thursday, August 29, 2019) –– More than two people are killed every day on U.S. roads by impatient and reckless drivers blowing through red lights, according to data analysis performed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The most recent crash data available shows 939 people were killed in red light running crashes in 2017 -- a 10-year high and a 28% increase since 2012.  

 

At least 261 persons lost their lives in deadly red-light running crashes in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. in the period from 2008 through 2017, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists, according to an analysis of FARS data by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. That deathly toll includes 148 persons in Maryland, 108 individuals in Virginia and six persons in the District of Columbia, notes AAA Mid-Atlantic.

 

With the number of red light running crashes on the rise, AAA calls for drivers to use caution when approaching signalized intersections, and for pedestrians and cyclists to stay alert when crossing the street.  According to the AAA Foundation:

 

  • 28% of crash deaths that occur at signalized intersections are the result of a driver running through a red light.
  • Per capita, Arizona has the highest rate of red light running fatalities while New Hampshire has the lowest rate.
  • Nearly half (46%) of those killed in red light running crashes were passengers or people in other vehicles and more than 5% were pedestrians or cyclists. Just over 35% of those killed were the drivers who ran the red light.

 

“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,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The data shows that red light running continues to be a traffic safety challenge. All road safety stakeholders must work together to change behavior and identify effective countermeasures.”

           

“As a countermeasure, red-light cameras are an effective tool in reducing traffic deaths, injury crashes and angle injury crashes, and in modifying the dangerous behavior of reckless drivers prone to blow through red lights,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “The deployment of red-light camera systems across the region have produced long-term changes in driver behavior and triggered a ‘dramatic reduction in red-light running at the intersections where they are operational,’ as the Metropolitan Police Department and other area law enforcement agencies explain. Yet red-light running is unacceptable anywhere and everywhere, and it remains a threat to the safety of all. To save lives and protect the limbs of motorists, vehicle occupants, school children, pedestrians, seniors, motorcyclists and cyclists, the District, Maryland and Virginia have implemented effective red-light camera programs.”

According to the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index, 85% of drivers view red light running as very dangerous, yet nearly one in three say they blew through a red light within the past 30 days when they could have stopped safely. More than two in five drivers also say it is unlikely they’ll be stopped by police for running a red light. Nevertheless, it’s against the law and if a driver is involved in a deadly crash, it could send them to jail.

Number of Deaths in Red Light Running Crashes by Year, 2008-2017

 

State

 

2008

 

2009

 

2010

 

2011

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

2015

 

2016

 

2017

 

Total

 

DC

 

1

 

3

 

0

 

0

 

1

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

1

 

0

 

6

 

MD

 

22

 

9

 

18

 

12

 

11

 

11

 

17

 

8

 

23

 

16

 

147

 

VA

 

10

 

12

 

10

 

9

 

9

 

9

 

12

 

6

 

17

 

14

 

108

 

Source: NHTSA FARS data, analyzed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

In the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia combined 261 people died between 2008 and 2017 due to red light running crashes according to NHTSA FARS data analyzed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Of the 261 total deaths, six people in the District of Columbia died as a result of a red light running crash. Of the six, two-thirds of those killed were passengers or people in other vehicles and one-third were pedestrians or cyclists. None of those killed were the drivers who ran the red light.  

 

Number of Deaths in Red Light Running Crashes by State and Role of Person Killed, 2008-2017

 

State

 

Red Light Running Driver

 

Passenger of Red Light Running Driver

 

Occupant of Other Vehicle

 

Pedestrian or Cyclist

 

Total

 

 

 

N

 

%

 

N

 

%

 

N

 

%

 

N

 

%

 

N

 

DC

 

0

 

0%

 

1

 

16.7%

 

3

 

50%

 

2

 

33.3%

 

6

 

MD

 

49

 

33.3%

 

20

 

13.6%

 

70

 

47.6%

 

8

 

5.4%

 

147

 

VA

 

40

 

37%

 

6

 

5.6%

 

62

 

57.4%

 

0

 

0%

 

108

 

Source: NHTSA FARS data, analyzed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

In Maryland, 147 people died as a result of a red light running crash between 2008 and 2017. Over half (61.2%) of those killed in red light running crashes were passengers or people in other vehicles and 5.4% were pedestrians or cyclists. Just over 33% of those killed were the drivers who ran the red light. Of the 261 deaths in the two states and the District, 108 people in Virginia died as a result of a red light running crash. Almost two-thirds (63%) of those killed in red light running crashes were passengers or people in other vehicles and none were pedestrians or cyclists. Just 37% of those killed were the drivers who ran the red light.

 

Of the 50 states and District of Columbia, Maryland is 18th in terms of fatalities per capita matching the national average at 2.4 fatalities per million of the 6,024,891 statewide population. The District and Virginia both rank below the national average with the District coming in 40th in terms of fatalities per capita at 0.9 fatalities per million of the 695,691 statewide population. Virginia is 36th in terms of fatalities per capita at 1.3 fatalities per million of the 8,465,207 statewide population.

 

To enhance the safety of District residents and its visitors, the District currently has 43 red light safety camera enforcement sites. In Maryland, “six counties, Baltimore City, and 22 other jurisdictions use red light cameras.” As of August 2019, at least ten localities and communities in Virginia operate red-light camera programs, including Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax City, and Falls Church. All told, 341 individual communities across the United States deploy automated red-light traffic enforcement cameras. While enforcement is the best way to get drivers to comply with any law, it is impossible for police to be at every intersection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that when properly implemented, red light cameras reduced the fatal red light running crash rate of large cities by 21% and the rate of all types of fatal crashes at signalized intersections by 14%.

 

“Deaths caused by red light running are on the rise,” said Jessica Cicchino, IIHS Vice President for Research. “Cameras increase the odds that violators will get caught, and well-publicized camera programs discourage would-be violators from taking those odds. Camera enforcement is a proven way to reduce red light running and save lives.” 

 

Proper implementation of red light cameras helps to ensure drivers’ safety and trust in the systems. When using red light camera programs, local governments should incorporate best practices, such as:

 

  • Using the red-light camera program as part of a comprehensive traffic safety strategy, including engineering and education.

  • Only implementing programs on roadways with a demonstrated pattern of violations or crashes.

  • Notifying drivers that cameras are being used (signage and other methods).

  • Calibrating cameras regularly.

  • Only operating cameras under the direct supervision of law enforcement personnel.

  • Evaluating the programs on a periodic basis to ensure safety benefits are being realized.

     

    Changes in driver behavior are also critical to reducing the number of red light running crashes on U.S. roads. To prevent red light crashes, AAA recommends that drivers:

     

  • Prepare to Stop: Lift your foot off the accelerator and “cover the brake” when preparing to enter any intersection by positioning your right foot just above the brake pedal, without touching it.
  • Use Good Judgement: Monitor “stale” green lights, those that have been green a long time as you’ve approached the intersection. They are more likely to turn yellow as you arrive at the intersection.
  • Tap the Brake: Tap your brakes a couple of times before fully applying them to slow down. This will catch the attention of drivers who may be inattentive or distracted behind you.
  • Drive Defensively: Before you enter an intersection after the light has turned green for you, take a second after the light changes and look both ways before proceeding.   

 

Pedestrians and cyclists should also stay safe when traveling near intersections. AAA recommends:

 

  • Wait: Give yourself a few seconds to make sure all cars have come to a complete stop before moving through the intersection.
  • Stay Alert and Listen: Don't take chances and don't wear headphones. Watch what is going on and give your full attention to the environment around you.
  • Be Visible: Stay in well-lit areas, especially when crossing the street.
  • Make Eye Contact: Look at drivers in stopped vehicles to ensure they see you before crossing the road in front of them.

 

AAA strongly supports traffic safety measures designed to red light running, including increased enforcement and traffic-engineering improvements. The installation of red light camera is acceptable when these counter-measures are not successful.

 

 

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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and nearly 79,000 members in the District of Columbia.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit  http://aaa.com

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Who's in the Driver's Seat? The Transformation of Transportation

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