Traffic signals serve a critical purpose, as they help regulate traffic patterns and prevent motorists from colliding with one another in busy areas. The signals, themselves, only do so much, however, and it is up to those navigating through signaled intersections to abide by the red, yellow and green lights. Unfortunately, new research indicates that motorists are blowing through red lights at alarming rates and that a rising number of people have lost their lives as a result.

According to West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the number of lives lost because of drivers running red lights is at its highest in 10 years, with 939 fatalities occurring in 2017 alone as a result of driver’s blowing through red lights. This marks a more than 30% increase over the number of lives lost due to these circumstances in 2009, when 715 people passed away because of red-light runners.

Also troubling is the fact that most of the time, the people who died in crashes caused by red-light runners were not the red-light runners themselves. Instead, more than half of them were other drivers or passengers making their way through the intersection, and another 5% were pedestrians or bicyclists. While safety advocates contend that more research is necessary in order to determine the exact causes of this uptick, most agree that distracted driving plays a big role.

In-vehicle cellphone use, whether legal or not, continues to contribute to numerous crashes at signaled intersections and elsewhere. However, the hypocritical attitude that many motorists share may, too, be a contributing factor. Most drivers agree strongly that blowing red lights is highly dangerous, but about a third of those who feel this way also admitted to running a red light within the past month. Find more about car wrecks on our webpage.