Where Do Drivers Most Often Run Red Lights?

Speed is a major contributing factor in car-crash fatalities, and so is red-light running — some states have more scofflaws than others. In an effort to curb this dangerous behavior, the National Coalition for Safer Roads and the Federal Highway Administration are sponsoring National Stop on Red Week (Aug. 4-10, 2013), an annual multistate program dedicated to safety education and advocacy. 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that red-light running is the leading cause of urban collisions, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 8,700 people were killed in intersection or intersection-related crashes in 2009. More than two-thirds of these fatalities are pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers who never saw the red-light runner coming.

According to an IIHS study, red-light running rates decrease significantly at intersections with cameras, but clearly there's more work to be done. During National Stop on Red Week last year, more than 26,000 people in 15 states got red-light camera violations. The states with the most offenders are:

  • 1. Florida (8,374 violations)
  • 2. New York (5,538 violations)
  • 3. Missouri (3,273 violations)
  • 4. Maryland (1,431 violations)
  • 5. Washington (1,354 violations)

Cops Across the Country Put the Brakes on Speeding
Dangerous Trend: Running Red Lights
More Safety News

By Jennifer Geiger | August 5, 2013 | Comments (8)
Tags: Safety



It's hard to believe that anyone with a reasonable intelligence level would believe even for a second that RLCs are about safety and not revenue- especially with all the bad press in recent months about red light scamera programs in communities all across the country.

Study after study has shown that crashes caused by red light violators are those in which the light has been red for 2+ seconds and the driver is either distracted or driving under the influence. A camera on a pole isn't going to prevent crashes like this, nor is it going to "change" the behaviors of those drivers.

For real facts and data not manipulated by those who have a financial stake (i.e., IIHS, state and local governments, and of course the scamera vendors themselves) in the existence of red light scameras, see http://retiredpublicsafety.com/wp/red-light-camera-reference-page/

Also, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323494504578340451308563608.html is a news piece based on factual merit.


Can't disagree with at least some of what David said regarding the safety aspect of RLC's. Regardless of whether it stops red light running, it could reduce it as those folks are undoubtedly perpetual violators. Collect enough tickets, goodbye license. IMHO the ones that complain the most about cameras are often times the worst abusers. If the town collects money, what's wrong with that?


JJJR, there are a couple of things wrong with that - first, in most states where scameras are legal, the vehicle owner is ticketed rather than the driver (there are some exceptions like California). Secondly, the vast majority of red light violations are for a fraction of a second and those alleged "violators" never receive a second ticket - so that only leaves a tiny percentage of what I would call habitual red light runners left, particularly those who run the light 2+ seconds in to the red phase - and again, those are caused by distracted or DUI drivers. Those are the drivers that are truly dangerous, and they are the ones that need to be dealt with by a real police officer.

Additionally, in most states, you don't get points on your license for red light scamera tickets - another sign that it's all about the money. A traffic citation issued by an actual live police officer at the scene for running a red light/failure to obey a traffice control device DOES carry points, however.

Thanks for spreading awareness about this problem. While there are many who doubt the accuracy of some of the camera devices used to catch red light runners, no one can dispute the fact that running red lights is a major cause of accidents causing injuries and deaths every year. Nothing is so important that it can't wait a few extra minutes. Slow down when the light is yellow and STOP when it is red. You may save a life!!


David, interesting point you bring up making the car responsible for going through red lights. Drivers are responsible to have their car under control at all times. Exceptions do occur but there simply is no excuse to run a light. Makes no difference if its fractions as you say, that's all it takes to kill or maim the other driver. Sorry but I'm finding it hard to swallow that ticketed runners are seldom repeat offenders.


JJJR- I agree with you on the notion that there is no excuse to run a red light, but do you have any specific examples of crashes (particularly with injuries) caused by a red light violator for a fraction of a second? I find it hard to believe that even at an intersection without an "all red" or "red clearance" phase (see http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fhwahop08024/chapter5.htm and scroll about halfway down to the "red clearance section") of at least one second this could occur, because it would take cross traffic at least a second or two to start moving and be in the middle of the intersection. On a side note, I may be wrong, but I would think virtually all intersections in the US utilize an "all red" clearance phase.

Any law enforcement officer or traffic homicide investigator will tell you that these horrific red light running crashes with injuries or fatalities are caused by distracted or DUI drivers, well in to the red phase. Again, a camera on a pole isn't going to do anything but record these tragic crashes. It won't change the behavior of these drivers or otherwise deter them from running a red light.

We'd be better served with concentrating our efforts on distracted and driving under the influence awareness, along with proper yellow light timing. There's no need for nitpicking cash register cameras smacking people with 0.3 second violations.

Also, I've seen two stories in recent weeks that the scamera companies themselves claim very low re-offense rates. "In New Port Richey, the camera vendor compiled separate statistics for the city suggesting 90 percent of the offenders do not get another red light violation, which could indicate safer driving habits." from http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/red-light-cameras-bring-minimal-safety-additions/2133212 and "96.5 percent of drivers cited for running a photo red light in Arlington County did not violate a second photo red light." from http://news.arlingtonva.us/photo-red-light-enforcement-plays-a-pivotal-role-in-countys-traffic-safety-program


Also worth noting that the "National Coalition for Safer Roads" is a front for red-light camera manufacturer ATS. They don't even hide it. Their website says, "NCSR is supported by American Traffic Solutions."

Would have been nice if the article mentioned this.

"Speed is a major contributing factor in car-crash fatalities, and so is red-light running"

I'm a retired state trooper with a lot of traffic crash experience. The red light camera reference page linked above is mine. I've done a lot of research on this issue using state DOT crash records.

The first line of this "story" is factually untrue regarding red light violations (RLV). Was any research done here or just a reprinting of a camera vendor's press release?

In Florida, until 2011 the Dept. of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles published exhaustive crash data to include causes (it is now hidden). In 2010, there were 53 fatal crashes caused by a RLV, down from over 100 a few years earlier- and this was done before the camera law kicked in circa July 2010. My DOT crash data shows for the first full year of the camera scheme, the 53 increased to 72 in Florida.

RLV as a percentage of all crashes in Florida is around 3%. It is not the epidemic the local officials and camera vendors (who both make money from this scheme) make it out to be. Look up a publication called "Traffic Crash Facts" and you can verify the 53 and 3% numbers for 2010.

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