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AAA reports people running more red lights than ever in Wisconsin

The Automobile Association of America (AAA) recently reported that the number of people killed by drivers running red lights is higher than ever – a 10-year high. The study says that 939 people were killed by motor vehicles running red lights in 2017 (the latest available figures). This represents the highest death toll since 2012, with an average fatality rate of two people a day.


In Wisconsin, there were 22 such fatalities in 2017, a 150% increase over the 2008-2016 average. With the number of red light running crashes on the rise, AAA calls for drivers to use caution when approaching signalized intersections, and for pedestrians and cyclists to stay alert when crossing the street.


David Yang, executive director of AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety said, “Drivers who decide to run a red light when they could have stopped safely are making a reckless choice that puts other road users in danger.”

AAA doesn’t have an explanation for why these numbers are rising, or why they have increased at a far higher rate than overall U.S. roadway deaths. Since 2012, the overall number of highway fatalities rose 10%, much less than the 28% increase caused by red light running deaths.


Brian Tefft, senior researcher for the AAA Foundation doesn’t believe that just because more people are driving more miles is the cause of running red light deaths. He suspects distracted driving, traffic lights not being timed optimally, and too-short yellow light precaution could all be possible causes for the increase.


Tefft said, “I wish we had a better answer than we do,” saying that more studies would be needed that were currently not within the scope of data in the study of fatal crashes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


AAA recommendations for decrease red light running deaths

AAA has several recommendations that could hopefully decrease red light running deaths.

  • Local and state governments should increase the use of red light cameras directly supervised by authorities. This would help enforce the law where needed.

  • Drivers should prepare to stop as they enter an intersection and tap their brakes while approaching a light to warn other drivers of a possible stop.

  • They also recommend waiting a second after a light changes to green before proceeding into the intersection and checking to ensure that all crossing traffic has stopped.

  • For cyclists and pedestrians, they recommend taking a few seconds to make sure traffic has completely stopped before crossing an intersection, and says it also helps to be visible, make eye contact with drivers, and stay alert (no headphones or telephone use).


Red light tickets in Wisconsin

If you receive a ticket for running a red light in Wisconsin, you will most likely have to pay a fine. Fines are $20 to $40 for a first offense within a year, and $50 to $100 for a second or subsequent conviction within a year. The conviction will also add demerit points to your driving record. Should a red light violation result in injury or death of another, the driver could face criminal charges, including vehicular homicide in the event of a fatality.


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