From technology-related distractions and driver impairment to simple impatience, a surprising number of U.S. drivers continue to run red lights despite the obvious risks. The American Automobile Association recently published a report that found that red-light fatalities increased by 28% between 2012 and 2017.
While motorists in a hurry, distracted or under the influence pose a danger to themselves, they may also put other drivers and passengers at risk, as well as cyclists and pedestrians. The AAA has found that almost half of those killed in red-light collisions were either passengers or drivers of another vehicle. Careful drivers should make sure to follow a few basic rules to avoid a potential red-light collision.
- Practice defensive driving
Motorists should not assume that others on the road will always obey traffic signs and signals. Even when a driver has the right of way, he or she should make sure to briefly pause and scan the intersection in both directions to check for other motorists, cyclists or pedestrians who may not be following the law or may not be paying attention.
- Be ready to stop
Another important aspect of defensive driving is “covering the brake” when approaching and passing through an intersection. By carefully removing the right foot from the accelerator and holding it just above the brake pedal, a motorist may have a greater chance of reacting quickly if faced with hazardous conditions.
- Monitor green lights carefully
When a driver approaches a green light that has been active for some time, he or she should be ready to stop. Speeding up to pass through a yellow light is one of the most common reasons that red-light collisions occur. Additionally, when approaching a yellow or red signal, motorists should lightly tap the brakes to alert potentially distracted drivers behind them before coming to a full stop.
Learning to approach and traverse through intersections with care and caution may help to prevent a motor vehicle accident with a careless or reckless driver.