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Red-light traffic deaths reach a 10-year high

Traffic lights exist to help regulate the flow of traffic and keep motorists and passengers safe while traveling the nation's roads. In some cases, signaled intersections can prove highly dangerous. According to AAA, the number of people dying in the United States as a result of motorists running red lights is at a 10-year high, with the nation seeing more than 930 fatalities relating to red-light running in 2017 alone.

This is a sharp 28% increase since 2012 and the highest number of traffic deaths linked to red lights since 2008. Just what is it that is causing the rise in red-light-related traffic deaths?

Possible contributors

Many safety advocates and law enforcement officials believe that the increased use of cellphones in vehicles contributes to the rising number of red-light deaths. While Florida has taken steps to curb distracted driving by enacting hands-free laws, not everyone abides by them. Using a cellphone in a vehicle, whether for texting, talking or other purposes, can distract a driver enough to blow through a red light.

In some cases, issues with the traffic signals themselves can have a hand in crashes. If, say, a traffic light is improperly timed, a motorist may not have enough time to safely pass through an intersection before the light turns green.

Lastly, some drivers intentionally run a red light or try to squeeze through if the light has just turned red. It is not known if more drivers are flouting the law on purpose.

Protecting yourself from red light runners

There is only so much you can do to avoid a collision when you have the right of way and another car comes barreling through. These tips may help to avoid a stoplight collision:

  • Tap your brakes as you get close to signaled intersections to make other motorists (ahead or behind you) more aware of your presence.
  • Wait a beat or make a visual check after the light turns green before hitting the gas and proceeding through the intersection.

Drivers who run red lights pose a threat to cyclists and pedestrians as well. Exercise care when navigating intersections, regardless of how you travel.

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