Roderick C. Lopez | November 3, 2023 | Car Accidents
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, crashes that involved at least one driver running a red light resulted in 1,109 fatalities across the United States in 2021. While it’s clear that red light running is a dangerous activity, people continue to do it. Knowing what happens if you run a red light could be key to helping you think twice about risking it.
Why You Might Run a Red Light
A 2009 survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation indicated that while 98% of Americans say that running a red light is dangerous, more than half of them admitted to doing it because they were in a hurry.
When people feel that they are under pressure to make it to their destination on time, they may act with poor judgment, miscalculating the risk of ending up in a fatal car accident. Some other reasons drivers might run a red light include:
- Their speeding vehicle was unable to stop in time
- They ran the red light on accident because they were zoned out
- They were distracted by another activity like texting or music
- They fail to consider the safety of others
- They don’t believe there will be any consequences
- They are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Whatever the reason, it’s important for drivers to know that running a red light can and does come with consequences. Even if you don’t get caught by the police, you’ll still run into trouble in other ways.
What Happens if You Run a Red Light?
Running a red light can come with serious consequences for both drivers and possibly any pedestrians in their path. While 1,109 people died in 2021 from crashes involving red light running, another 127,000 people were injured. Undoubtedly, many of these injuries were life-altering and financially, personally, and emotionally affected both the injured party and their loved ones.
Because of the way that traffic patterns flow, most crashes that involve red light running result in side impact (also called t-bone) collisions. These account for 22% of all fatal crashes and are more likely to result in injury. While the front and rear of a car have protective features to help those areas absorb the impact of a crash, vehicle sides typically do not.
Even if you ran the red light on accident, it is considered to be a misdemeanor offense in Texas. Depending on the circumstances, it’s possible that you could face criminal charges. You may also end up with points on your license or even have it suspended or revoked.
Finally, running a red light can affect you personally. It’s not always the other driver who suffers. At the very least, you may have to deal with property damage due to a car accident.
However, you can’t discount the emotional anguish that might come with knowing you injured another person or the financial burden of being responsible for damages in a wrongful death lawsuit or paying higher insurance premiums.
Stopping Red Light Running for Good
There are some measures that states and cities can implement to help put a stop to this problem. Traffic cameras have been shown to reduce red light running. However, because ticket-issuing traffic monitoring cameras were outlawed in Texas in 2019, jurisdictions around the state will have to rely on other methods, such as adjusting the timing of yellow lights so that drivers have adequate time to stop.
Ultimately, the only way to stop red light running is for every citizen to make a personal decision to do so. As a driver, you must commit to driving safely within the confines of the speed limit and obeying the rules of the road. If everyone would slow down, pause to assess the traffic situation, and move carefully at intersections, roadways would be much safer for everyone.