Two People A Day Are Killed By Red-Light-Running Drivers

Illustration for article titled Two People A Day Are Killed By Red-Light-Running Drivers
Image: Charlie Riedel/AP Images

The world at the moment is beset on all sides by assholes. You know, the people who don’t put their carts back at the grocery store, who take up much-needed gas pumps while stuffing their faces, and who run red lights. And while not putting your cart back may not risk any lives (except your own, if I catch you doing it) running red lights is incredibly dumb and dangerous behavior. And in 2017 these assholes killed 939 people.

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A new study from the American Automobile Association—AAA to its friends—found that deaths due to red light running have hit a 10-year high. In 2017 (the most recent year data is available) deaths at red lights was up 28 percent from just five years prior. The AAA study found 85 percent of drivers know that it is a risky maneuver, yet one in three of those respondents said they had blown through a red light in the last 30 days.

It’s unfortunately not surprising that red light deaths are up, since all traffic-related deaths are up. In 2017, 37,000 people died on American roads. That’s actually slightly lower than in 2016, but the dip came after a 14 percent increase in fatalities from 2014 through 2016.

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And the assholes aren’t even getting themselves killed. Nearly half of those killed in such incidents were either the passengers in the light-runner’s car or in the other cars involved in the crash. Just over 35 percent of deaths at red lights were the runners themselves, and the rest were pedestrians or cyclists. So these folks ignore a simple law, which ends up killing everyone around them, but not them, so they can continue to break the law, thus strengthening their numbers.

Assholes.

Managing Editor of Jalopnik.

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DISCUSSION

Now before I get started, I’d like to clarify that I absolutely agree with the core message here. Red-light runners are scum. To see a light that’s already red long before deciding not to slow down and blast through it makes a person reprehensible, helplessly selfish, and better off nonexistent.

However, on a different, but definitely related note.

Can we do something about yellow lights that last a second and a half before changing to red? The NHTSA considers 1.5 seconds to be an average driver’s reaction time. That’s from stimulus onset to the start of decision execution, not including the time it takes to, you know, stop the damn car. Something tells me we shouldn’t expect cars to come to a complete stop within the same time frame it takes for their drivers just to react to the light.