It is not uncommon to see a driver running a red light, whether they are speeding through an intersection or turning illegally. Regardless of the reason, running a red light is illegal and can lead to a dangerous car accident. In 2019, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released data from 2012 to 2017, which stated that the number of people killed in car accidents caused by red light runners increased by 28 percent. Over 900 people lost their lives in 2017 alone, which was a 10-year high. Forty-six percent of those killed were passengers or people riding in other vehicles. Each year, red light accidents injure 200,000 motorists and passengers.
Are Red Light Accidents Common in Pennsylvania?
The Morning Call recently shared data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). These statistics analyzed online crash data from the past two decades. In 2017, there were 35 deaths related to accidents at red lights. The average for the 20-year period was 31.7 people per year for the entire state. Lehigh County had one of the highest county crash rates, which was about 1.7 red light-related deaths each year. Delaware County had approximately one death each year.
What is the Ride on Red Law in Pennsylvania?
Although speeding through a red light is dangerous, sometimes, red lights do not work correctly, which presents issues for drivers. Waiting at a defective traffic light is a problem, especially for motorcyclists, pedestrians, and cyclists. In some cases, pedestrians and cyclists will not be heavy enough to set off the sensors beneath roads; these sensors trigger the lights to change.
The Ride on Red law was enacted in 2016 to aid motorcyclists at stuck traffic lights, but now applies to all vehicles in Pennsylvania. If the signal does not move from red to green, drivers are permitted to proceed as if the signal is a stop sign. This means that they have to come to a complete stop and see if the light changes. If the red light does not change, the driver can proceed through the intersection as long as there is no oncoming traffic. The Ride on Red law is only to be used when traffic lights malfunction. Drivers still have a duty of care to drive safely to avoid accidents.
Why Do Drivers Run Red Lights?
Drivers run through red lights for many reasons, such as:
- Impatience: Most people may not like sitting at red lights, but it is important to always follow traffic laws.
- Speeding: Speeding up as a light is changing from yellow to red also causes drivers to run red lights.
- Recklessness: Reckless drivers who are driving aggressively run red lights because they are going too fast to react to emergencies. The faster a vehicle is going, the more time it needs to stop.
- Distractions: Distracted drivers frequently cause crashes. Motorists who are looking at their navigational devices, texting, eating, or arguing with other passengers can run red lights.
- Poor Weather Conditions: Poor weather conditions, like rain and ice, call for slower driving speeds and additional time to slow down for traffic signals. It is also possible for vehicles to skid through intersections unintentionally.
- Unfamiliar Roads: Being unfamiliar with an intersection can cause a driver to run a red light.
What Happens If a Driver Runs a Red Light?
Accidents can be devastating, especially when vehicles are speeding. If the cars driving in the other direction are also traveling at high speeds, the consequences can be even worse. T-bone collisions can result when a car slams into the side of another, and these accidents can lead to life-altering injuries, as well as fatalities. In addition to property damage, victims can suffer from whiplash, broken bones, brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
How is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?
Running a red light is considered reckless, and negligent drivers can face significant consequences. Drivers have a legal duty to follow traffic laws to protect other motorists and pedestrians. Drivers who disregard red lights put everyone at risk. Injured parties may have claims against at-fault drivers in these situations.
When accidents like these occur, it is essential to call 911 to alert police and medical personnel. If the police issue a ticket to the driver who ran the light, that driver may be held accountable. Drivers held legally responsible for running red lights may face serious penalties, including hefty fines for moving violations and other infringements. There is also the possibility of acquiring criminal charges.
Additionally, insurance companies who cover these drivers may have to pay for medical bills, lost wages, and other costs. The driver may also be liable for other expenses not covered by insurance companies. In some cases, insurance rates increase, or drivers may lose their insurance policies if they are canceled. Injured parties may also institute claims against negligent drivers who run red lights. If a victim wishes to pursue a personal injury case, they should contact an experienced car accident lawyer.
How can I Reduce My Risk for a Car Accident?
Many drivers who run red lights need to change their bad driving habits. Looking at signals as safety measures rather than minor annoyances is a good start. Slowing down, being aware of one’s surroundings, and pausing before proceeding after a light change are also recommended. Some states have instituted protective measures on traffic lights, such as increasing the length of time for yellow lights and installing more traffic cameras. If a person is injured in a red light accident, they should contact a skilled lawyer right away.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Victims Injured in Red Light Accidents
Red light accidents cause serious injuries and can even lead to fatalities. Our trusted Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC protect injured car accident victims. For a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 215-569-8488. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.