By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Red light running deaths hit 10-year high
Kansans better at stopping than state average
running lights pic
Traffic flows through the stop light at 10th and McKinley over the weekend, Although Kansas drivers did better than the national average, the trend shows more motorists running red lights. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

TOPEKA  – The number of people killed as the 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.

However, the data also shows that Kansas motorists are better than the national average in terms of obeying stop lights.

 “This disturbing trend impacts everyone on our roadways – drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians,” says Shawn Steward, spokesman for AAA Kansas. “It is critical that all parties understand this increased risk and adjust their behaviors accordingly.”

 “Defensive driving and limiting distractions is something we teach students of all ages every day,” says Jennifer Shorette, the Director of AAA Driving Schools. “You cannot control the bad behavior of other drivers but you can change your own behavior to minimize risk.”

 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.

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

But, according to analysis of the data, the Sunflower State had a slightly lower than average rate (2.2 per million) of red light running fatalities per year as compared to other states nationwide (2.4 per million). Kansas’ fatality rate in red light running crashes ranks 20th highest in the nation. 

Kansas’ neighboring states’ rates include Colorado (3.5/M – 5th highest in the nation), Missouri (2.3/M), Nebraska (2/M) and Oklahoma (1.9/M).

In Kansas, there were 63 people killed as the result of drivers running red lights over the 10-year period analyzed by the AAA Foundation (2008-2017).

“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 iden-tify effective countermeasures.”


Prevalent behavior

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.

To prevent red light crashes, Drive Defensively, #DontDriveIntexticated and other tips from AAA:

• Limit Distractions – previous AAA Foundation research indicates that driver distraction from, as an example, hands-free texting or dialing while sitting at a red light, can linger for up to 27 seconds after hitting send. Intersections re-quire a driver’s full attention. #DontDriveIntexticated

• Drive Defensively: Before you enter an intersection after the light has turned green for you, take a second after the light changes and look both ways before proceeding.   

• Prepare to Stop: Lift your foot off the accelerator and “cover the brake” when preparing to enter any intersection by positioning your right foot just above the brake pedal, without touching it.

• Use Good Judgment: Monitor “stale” green lights, those that have been green a long time as you’ve approached the intersection. They are more likely to turn yellow as you arrive at the intersection.

• Tap the Brakes: Tap your brakes a couple of times before fully applying them to slow down. This will catch the atten-tion of drivers who may be inattentive or distracted behind you.

Pedestrians and cyclists should also stay safe when traveling near intersections. AAA recommends:

• Wait: Give yourself a few seconds to make sure all cars have come to a complete stop before moving through the in-tersection.

• Stay Alert and Listen: Don’t take chances and don’t wear headphones. Watch what is going on and give your full at-tention to the environment around you.

• Be Visible: Stay in well-lit areas, especially when crossing the street.

• Make Eye Contact: Look at drivers in stopped vehicles to ensure they see you before crossing the road in front of them.


Analysis of crash data (2008-2017) by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds: 

• Deaths caused by drivers running red lights hit a 10-year high.

• Red light running crash deaths jumped almost 30% from 2012-2017.

• Most of the time, the victim is NOT the offending driver.

• At least 2 people killed every day as the result of drivers running red lights.

• Kansas is ranked 20th highest in the nation and has a slightly lower rate of red light running fatalities compared to the national average – higher than surrounding states of

• 1 in 3 people admit to running a red light within the past 30 days.

• Tips for minimizing risk include driving defensively and limiting distractions.