Car accidents caused by running lights have the potential to be among the most lethal type of accidents.
This is because of two factors. First, drivers running red lights are more likely to be traveling at a high rate of speed. Second, the type of impact, the front-side impact typical of this type of interaction, reduces the amount of protection for passengers in the side-struck vehicle. Rear-end and even head-on collisions give passengers a lot more protection between them and the other vehicle.
It is partly for these reasons that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has identified red-light running accidents as a major safety hazard. IIHS statistics show that 676 people were killed as a result of red-light running accidents in 2009, with 113,000 more suffering serious personal injury. Unfortunately, most of the time, the people killed or injured were not in the car running the red light. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of those killed in red-light running accidents were people other than the driver who made the decision to run the light. About half (46%) of those killed or injured were in the car obeying the signal.
Fortunately, the number of red-light car accident deaths and injuries have been decreasing recently, due to red-light cameras, according to the IIHS. If you’ve ever been snapped by one, you may hate them, but the truth is that these cameras that are popping up all over Chicago can save lives. Once red-light cameras are installed, statistics show that crashes involving personal injury go down anywhere from 13% to 32%, with front-to-side crashes dropped by as much as 68%.
Some people say that red-light cameras have the potential to cause an increase in rear-end accidents, but most studies don’t show this increase. Even when this increase seems to occur, the number of accidents decreases overall, and the number of injury accidents reduces dramatically.