There are scary car crash statistics and then there are scary car crash statistics. This is the latter. According to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Road Safety, 939 people were killed in red light accidents in 2017. That’s a 28 percent increase since 2012 and a 10-year high in data.
A survey of drivers as part of the study also found that 85 percent of drivers thought driving a red light was very dangerous, but nearly a third said they did so in the last month. “More than 40 percent said they didn’t think the police would stop them,” said AAA. “Even so, it’s against the law and if a driver is involved in a fatal accident, he could send them to jail.”
Proof of law per se
Driving a red light is a criminal offense (as is killing vehicles). However, a breach of the law at the wheel can also impact civil claims, thanks to a concept of law known as negligence in itself. Negligence is a central factor in any auto accident injury case, and a driver who breaks traffic rules by giving a red light before an accident is often viewed as negligent per se, as the law promotes safety and the type of injuries that occurred should avoid.
In many countries, showing that the defendant has violated a law, rule, or ordinance issued to protect against the harm caused to the plaintiff means that the defendant’s negligence has been definitively established. In other jurisdictions, a defendant’s violation of a law is simply evidence that the defendant may have acted negligently. So, proving someone gave a red light could lead to evidence of negligence and error in a car accident, or the matter could be resolved in full.
Stop an accident
Proving a failure in a car accident can be difficult. But it certainly helps to have evidence that a party gave a red light. “Drivers who decide to drive a red light when they could have stopped safely are making a reckless decision that puts other road users at risk,” said the managing director of the AAA Foundation for Road Safety, Dr. David Yang.
AAA also has some recommendations for drivers to avoid red lights and accidents:
- Prepare to Stop: Take your foot off the accelerator and “cover the brakes” as you prepare for an intersection by positioning your right foot directly over the brake pedal without touching it.
- Use good judgment: Monitor “stale” green lights that had been green by the time you approached the intersection. They are more likely to turn yellow when you get to the intersection.
- Tap the brakes: tap your brakes a few times before fully applying them to slow down. This will attract the attention of drivers who may be inattentive or distracted behind you.
- Drive Defensively: Before entering an intersection after the lights turn green for you, take a second after the lights change and look both ways before continuing.
If you’ve been involved in an accident caused by a red light, speak to an experienced auto accident attorney about your legal options.