Deaths due to drivers running red lights has spiked nationwide, AAA report finds


The number of people killed as a result of drivers running red lights has spiked sharply in recent years, according to analysis of crash data by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. And, more often than not (almost 65% of the time), the victim is not the offending driver.

“This disturbing trend impacts everyone on our roadways – drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians,” says Ken Grant, Public and government Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “It is critical that all parties understand this increased risk and adjust their behaviors accordingly.”

Statistics indicate that red light running crash deaths jumped almost 30% between 2012 and 2017, the most recent crash data available, with the aggressive, reckless behavior claiming at least 2 lives every day across the US.

In Delaware, there were 37 people killed as the result of drivers running red lights over the 10-year period analyzed by the AAA Foundation (2008-2017). Ten of those who lost their lives in Delaware were the drivers who ran the red light, four were passengers with the driver who ran the red light, and 23 were occupants in other vehicles struck by the red light running driver.

The most recent crash data available shows 939 people were killed in red light running crashes in 2017, a 10-year high.

“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,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The data shows that red light running continues to be a traffic safety challenge. All road safety stakeholders must work together to change behavior and identify effective countermeasures.”

According to the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index, 85% of drivers view red light running as very dangerous, yet nearly one in three say they blew through a red light within the past 30 days when they could have stopped safely.

“Defensive driving and limiting distractions is something we teach students of all ages every day,” says Kurt Gray, Director of AAA Driver Education. “You cannot control the bad behavior of other drivers but you can change your own behavior to help reduce your risk.”