Ever run a red light? Many motorists have, according to a newly released national survey prepared by Farmers Insurance Group of Companies.
Last year, Farmers did a random written survey of driving habits of about 1,000 people and found that
"Stopping at red lights without a doubt can prevent thousands of needless tragic accidents in a given year," said Mary Flynn, Media Relations Manager for Farmers Insurance Group, based in Los Angeles. "We at Farmers urge motorists to always ask themselves if the few seconds they might save by running a red light are worth the risk of injuring, or even killing themselves or others."
"Keep in mind that the vast majority of the fatalities in these type of tragic incidents are innocent victims. These are pedestrians and other motorists," Flynn said. "Make no mistake that a lost life in any vehicular crash is tragic, but that's even more true when the fatal accident is caused by a red light runner."
Farmers' disquieting findings are buttressed by numbers provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in Virginia. IIHS noted that there were more than 200,000 crashes caused by red light runners, resulting in 176,000 injuries and 934 deaths in 2003, the most recent year in which such statistics were available.
In 1997, the U.S. Census Bureau released a list of the cities and states that had the highest per-capita number of deaths caused by red-light runners. According to the report, residents in Arizona are almost twice as likely to die in an accident caused by a red-light runner than any other state.
| Cities and States with highest death rates in red light running crashes per 100,000 people, 1992-98
Sources: Fatality Analysis Reporting System, U.S. Department of Transportation; population data from U.S.
|Note: cities with population more than 200,000
Census Bureau, 1992-98
IIHS spokesman Russ Rader explains that red light running is defined as driver intentionally entering an intersection after the signal light has turned red, and he described the magnitude of the problem as "rampant."
"Red light running continues to be a problem in many communities and is a deadly cost imposed on our nation," emphasized Rick Capka, deputy administrator of the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in Washington, D.C. "Motorists must stop for red lights -- there are no excuses," Capka insisted.
The deadly consequences of red light running are well known to Ann Sweet of Warsaw, Ind., a member of the Advisory Board of the National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running. On Oct. 27, 1997, Sweet's daughter, Shawnee, in her early 20s -- a college graduate with wedding plans along with a new job -- was killed in a traffic accident caused by a semi-flatbed truck that ran a red light and plowed into her.
Sweet points out that, "So many people run red lights because they assume they won't get caught. We live in a hurry-up society, and too many people have no compunctions about running red lights and possibly endangering other people's lives in order to save a few minutes driving."
A complete city list of death rates in red light running crashes is available online from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
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