The Dangerous Habit of Running Red Lights

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If you’re a regular driver on Wisconsin roads, you’ve probably been the victim of a habitual red light runner. Some drivers accelerate through yellow lights as they’re changing to red; other drivers simply disregard red lights altogether, as though the rules don’t apply to them. When reckless drivers approach intersections with no intention of slowing down, they add an unnecessary element of danger for other drivers traveling on the same roads. While any driver can cause an accident, drivers who habitually disregard traffic signals increase their risk.
Drivers who regularly run red lights may view the violation as a harmless way of reaching their destinations with minimal delay. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. A driver who runs a red light is just as culpable as other reckless drivers. Their actions are illegal and inherently dangerous, and they put other drivers at risk.
When a driver runs a red light, other vehicles entering the intersection become easy targets. Many reckless drivers fail to slow down as they cross through an intersection; in fact, many actually speed up to cross as quickly as possible. This added speed not only increases their chances of causing an accident but also enhances the potential for serious injuries in the event of a crash.

Running a Red Light Constitutes Negligent Driving

When drivers intentionally or unintentionally disregard traffic signals, they’re responsible for the damages that they cause in the event of an accident. If a reckless driver caused an accident that injured you or your family member, it’s important to take immediate action. You should reach out to the personal injury attorneys at Groth Law Firm, S.C. We dedicate our practice to protecting our clients’ legal rights. Our legal team has fought to recover damages for clients who have sustained injuries due to reckless actions taken by other drivers, including running red lights.

What Does Wisconsin Law Consider Running a Red Light?

The idea of stopping at a red light is a simple concept. Young children learn at a very early age that “red, yellow, green” means “stop, wait, go.” Wisconsin law provides specific definitions that cover red lights and other traffic signals.
A driver’s duty to stop begins when a traffic signal displays a yellow light. As the law explains, a driver should only enter an intersection during a yellow light if he or she cannot stop safely prior to the intersection. A red light constitutes a definitive order to stop. Exceptions apply to a driver stopped in an intersection to complete a turn, drivers governed by turning arrows, and drivers at intersections where it’s legal to turn right on a red light. Even in those scenarios, a motorist must stop and proceed cautiously enough to safely complete the action.

Speeding and Running Red Lights

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other agencies track drivers who speed and those who run red lights under different categories. Still, running red lights and speeding are often different elements of the same problem. NHTSA’s statistics indicate that 9,717 persons died in one recent year because of speed-related accidents on American roads.
National research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) documented 811 red light-related fatalities in 2016. IIHS’s national urban crash study determined that 22 percent of all accidents in 2015 involved red lights, stop signs, and other traffic control devices. Related research found that drivers who regularly exceed the speed limit are also more likely to run red lights and engage in other unsafe driving behaviors.

Red Light Runners Don’t Just Injure Other Motorists

Drivers who frequently run red lights put both other drivers and non-drivers risk. The IIHS estimates that, nationally, 137,000 persons sustained red-light-related injuries in 2015. Drivers and their passengers weren’t the only victims; pedestrians and bicyclists also sustained injuries, and some even lost their lives.
While those in vehicle-only accidents can sustain serious injuries, pedestrians and bicyclists usually fare far worse when they are involved in car accidents. They lack adequate protection to prevent injury if they strike the vehicle or road. Pedestrians and cyclists often sustain fatal or catastrophic injuries, some which involve long-term disabilities and lifelong consequences.
Catastrophically injured pedestrians and cyclists often sustain multiple different serious injuries, including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, multiple fractures, and/or crushed extremities. These individuals usually incur high medical costs for treatment, rehabilitation, and extended care. Even once they’ve reached maximum recovery, catastrophically injured individuals may have difficulty ever resuming normal, daily activities.

Who Runs Red Lights?

According to the IIHS, young males run red lights more frequently than other drivers. Furthermore, a recent IIHS study determined that youthful male drivers who caused red light-related multi-car crashes often had prior speeding convictions and alcohol-related accidents. They are also generally less likely to wear a seatbelt or to hold a valid driver’s license.

Eliminating Red Light Running Problems

Red lights are an integral part of our traffic control system. When drivers react and respond properly to traffic signals, they help keep everyone safe. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to abide by the law. To combat this, the IIHS recommends the following traffic control alternatives:

  • Roundabouts. Intersections that include roundabouts instead of traditional traffic signals reduce fatalities and injuries for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. A roundabout is a tight circular configuration; to properly navigate one, a motorist must slow down. Roundabouts aren’t an economic or efficient solution, however, as they often require a complete restructuring of existing intersections.
  • Red-light cameras. Red light cameras deter habitual red light runners, as they automatically photograph a driver who runs a red light. Some systems send the information to law enforcement agencies to follow up, while others automatically generate a citation. These high profile enforcement measures reduce the frequency of drivers who run red lights. In fact, one IIHS study noted a 40 percent reduction in red light violations in one area with such cameras. Wisconsin currently has no laws that permit red light cameras.

Did a Driver Injure You After Running a Red Light? Call Us Today

If a reckless driver ran a red light and caused an accident that injured you or your loved one, contact Groth Law Firm, S.C. today. Our personal injury attorneys have helped clients in Brookfield, Milwaukee, and throughout Wisconsin. While we cannot guarantee a favorable result in every case, we’ve recovered millions of dollars in personal injury damages for past clients. Let us determine if we can help you. Call Groth Law Firm, S.C. at (414) 240-0707, or complete our case submission form, to schedule your free consultation today.

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