New Jersey communities often install traffic signals in high-traffic areas to regulate traffic flow and prevent crashes. However, traffic signals are only effective when motorists follow their cues. The number of motorists running red lights has risen sharply in recent years, raising questions about what cities and towns might do to reduce the number of injury- and fatality-involved crashes at signaled intersections.
Per WRNJ, almost 30% of all traffic deaths that take place in signaled intersections are the result of a driver running a red light. There were 939 traffic deaths in 2019 caused by motorists blowing through red lights, which was a 10-year high and a 28% increase since 2012.
Deaths caused by red-light runners are rising for several reasons, and one of those reasons is because many motorists are hypocritical when it comes to how to safely navigate these areas. There is widespread agreement among 85% of drivers that running red lights is quite dangerous. Yet, one in three drivers also reports having blown a red light within the past 30 days, even though they had time to stop at the traffic light.
Some cities and towns have taken to installing red-light cameras at signaled intersections. This may help accomplish two things. First, it helps raise awareness. Second, it helps hold offending drivers responsible when they blow through red lights. Studies suggest that red-light cameras are effective and that they reduce crashes caused by red-light runners in urban areas by 21%.
Motorists should always drive defensively when approaching and navigating signaled intersections and may want to wait a moment after the light turns green before proceeding.