Most drivers have taken a risk when the light changes ahead of them. Instead of slowing down they have barreled through an intersection to beat the light – occasionally with deadly consequences. Red-light runner accidents in Maryland and elsewhere are becoming more deadly and prevalent, a new survey suggests.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is calling for motorists to use greater caution when approaching signalized intersections, and for pedestrians and cyclists to stay alert when crossing the street. As Baltimore car accident lawyers, we help many people who suffer horrendous injuries in crashes caused by red light runners. We also help the families of those who lost a loved one and file wrongful death lawsuits on their behalf. Although intersection crashes do not usually take place at a high speed, these are often T-bone accidents that involve a side impact where drivers and passengers have less protection.
How Serious Are Red Light Car Accidents in Maryland?
According to AAA, two people die every day in the United States due to the actions of red-light runners. Deaths from traffic signal runners reached a 10-year high of 939 in 2017 – the most recent year figures are available for. The statistics suggest red light running is increasing, notwithstanding the arrival of cameras at some of our most dangerous intersections. The study may also reflect a recent spike in distracted driving. Wrongful deaths caused by red light runners in 2017 were 31 percent above 2009. Fatalities from red light runner accidents rose for a fifth straight year in 2017.
Fatalities from red light runners crept up nationally over the last decade and Maryland is no exception. According to AAA, Maryland is ranked 18th in terms of fatalities per capita at 2.4 fatalities per million of the 6,024,891 statewide population from red-light runners.
In Maryland, 147 people lost their lives because of the actions of Maryland red light runners between 2008 and 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) FARS data which the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed. It equates to about 16 car accident deaths a year. Thousands more are injured by drivers who fail to stop at red lights.
Which Drivers Are at the Greatest Risk from Red Light Runners in Maryland?
Law-abiding drivers who have the right of way are most likely to lose their lives in red light runner crashes, according to the figures compiled over a decade.
More than half (61.2%) of the victims of red light running crashes were passengers or people in other vehicles who were struck by a driver blowing through an intersection. The study found 5.4 percent were pedestrians or cyclists. Just over 33 percent of those killed were the drivers who ran the red light.
Although most drivers are aware of the risks of running a red light, they are still taking a chance. AAA conducted a separate survey that found a third of drivers admitted to having sped through a red light in the past 30 days, despite most of them saying red light running represents a serious safety concern.
Ragina C. Ali, public and government affairs manager at AAA Mid-Atlantic said:
”Drivers who carelessly run a red light when they could have stopped safely are making a reckless decision that not only jeopardizes their lives but endangers the lives of all road users. Unfortunately, the data indicates that red light running continues to be a traffic safety challenge. It is incumbent upon motorists to obey traffic laws and change behaviors that lead to fatalities on our roadways. Traffic safety stakeholders must continue to work together to identify effective countermeasures.”
Are Red Light Cameras Effective in Reducing Intersection Car Accidents in Maryland?
Many cities and towns in Maryland fitted red light enforcement cameras in recent years. They include Baltimore County which has red light cameras at 15 busy intersections. The use of red light cameras is authorized by the Maryland General Assembly under Transportation Article 21-202.1. Violators face a citation and a $75 fine.
Although there is evidence that cameras curtail red light running, their use is limited in most states. Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found correctly administered red light cameras reduce the fatality rates caused by red light runners at intersections in major cities by 21 percent and the rate of all types of fatal crashes at intersections with traffic signals by 14 percent. AAA recommends more cameras in intersections with a pattern of serious crashes. It says local law enforcement officials should directly supervise the cameras.
Does Distracted Driving Cause Red Light Accidents in Maryland?
Distracted driving is another possible explanation for the rise of the red light runner linked fatalities. The increase in deaths coincides with greater smartphone use. Distracted driving is seen as a factor in a recent spike in road deaths. Nationally, traffic deaths rose from an all-time low of 32,744 in 2014 to 37,133 in 2017 and 36,750 in 2018. The 21st Century driver has many distractions but the rapid growth of mobile communications devices is seen as a reason for an epidemic of distracted driving wrecks.
If you take your eyes off the road for a few seconds to check a text or your Facebook page, you may run a red light or a stop sign and cause a serious accident.
Contact Our Lawyer for Car Accidents Caused by Running Red Lights in Maryland
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, our legal team helps many people whose lives have been turned upside down by red light runners. It only takes a matter of seconds to end up with serious injuries or disabilities from the actions of an inattentive or reckless driver. The intersections of Maryland are dangerous and unpredictable places. Drivers who ha e the right of way seldom expected to be hit by a red light runner. The effects are often devastating. We fight for justice against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Please talk to our experienced Baltimore personal injury lawyer as soon as possible at 410-431-0911.