Road Deaths Caused by Red-Light Runners Reach a 10-Year High

By Greg Kohn

In states across the nation, including New Jersey, road deaths caused by red-light runners have reached a 10-year high. AAA reports a record number of people killed by vehicles running red lights in recent years, with 939 people killed nationwide as of 2017.  

New Jersey car accident attorneys corroborate the grim reality of fatal car crashes linked to red-light runners. Every year, New Jersey attorneys meet with families whose loved ones are killed by drivers failing to stop for red light signals. 

In an attempt to navigate their suffering and loss, victims’ families struggle to understand the failure to abide by simple traffic safety law and what can be done to reduce future incidents. 

Why Do New Jersey Drivers Fail to Stop at Red Lights?

Traffic officers responding to red-light runners offer a few explanations to explain the offenders’ infractions:

  • Distracted Driving: Many drivers are consumed with thoughts and tasks that divert attention from the roadway and safety signals. By the time any awareness of a red light registers to the driver’s mind, the driver is one-third to half-way through the intersection, entering into cross-traffic or risking pedestrian safety. 
  • Speeding: Drivers traveling above the speed limit often do not have the necessary reaction time or braking distance to stop safely at a red light. If a driver is speeding and sees a yellow light turn red, they may not be able to come to a stop or feel they have no alternative than to enter the intersection and run the red light to avoid potential rear-end crashes by traffic behind them. 
  • Lack of Judgement: Lack of judgment is a frequent cause of red-light fatalities. Drivers often overestimate their driving skills while underestimating road and traffic conditions.  As such, drivers may exercise extreme lack of judgment and fail to yield to traffic safety signals, believing that time and speed are on their side when running a red light. 

Best Safety Practices for Drivers at Red-light Intersections

Given the increased red-light fatalities at intersections, it’s wise for drivers to take precautions as they approach or are waiting at an intersection.  

David Yang, Executive Director of AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, recognizes that “red light running continues to be a traffic safety challenge,” urging all road safety stakeholders to work together to identify effective safety measures. 

As such, AAA recommends a few safety tips that may aid drivers in protecting themselves at an intersection:

  • Use Good Judgment: When approaching an intersection, monitor how long the light has been green and anticipate it may change to yellow. 
  • Prepare to Stop: Slow your vehicle and prepare to stop upon seeing a yellow light.
  • Tap Your Brakes: When slowing to stop at an intersection, tap your brakes a few times to alert drivers behind you that you are preparing to slow and stop.
  • Limit Distractions: Stay alert at intersections. Do not use time at a red-light to engage in distracting activities. 
  • Wait: When entering an intersection from a stop, whether in a vehicle or as a pedestrian or cyclist, wait a few seconds to be sure the intersection is clear from red-light violators blowing through at the last minute.  

New Jersey Car Accident Attorneys Urge You to Become Informed 

Red-light fatalities, while increasing, are not entirely unavoidable. New Jersey car accident attorneys urge drivers to identify common causes of red-light offenses and take precautionary measures when approaching an intersection. 

Remaining alert on the roadway and driving defensively are critical to your safety against red-light violators. Sometimes, however, precautions are still not enough to avoid a red light accident. 

If you have been injured or someone you love has been killed by a red-light violator, you may be entitled to financial compensation that will aid in healing and recovery. 

By piecing together evidence from the scene, including footage from red-light cameras, a skilled attorney may advise that you have a viable legal claim for damages. 

Contact our office today and speak with an experienced car accident attorney who will assess your case and implement a plan of action to get you much-needed compensation for your injuries or loss. 

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.