In Springfield last year, there were over 2,700 crashes at intersections with traffic signals (tip was originally from June 2001). Over 400 were directly related to someone running a red light. A recent survey at some signalized intersections showed that someone ran the red light an average of every 11.5 minutes. We as a society must take responsibility for the safety of ourselves as well as others. Many times, in an effort to save an average wait of 45 seconds, we throw that responsiblity out the window and go for it. If we're lucky we don't have a crash. Last year over 400 of us were not lucky. In some, cars were damaged or destroyed; in others people were injured, and in one, someone died.
We are trying to reduce the number of red light runners by increasing enforcement of signalized intersections. At some intersections we are installing red light indicator lights. These lights allow officers to watch the traffic lights from a distance and be able to see when a violator runs a red light as the violator is coming toward the officer. In the past, the officer needed to be able to watch the violator and the signal that the violator was running. After the violator ran the light, the officer had to activate his emergency equipment and then go through the red light. This increased the chances of a crash since motorists would have to stop on a green light to allow the officer through the intersection. With the increase in enforcement, we hope to have a reduction in crashes at these intersections.
Engineering is another aspect of traffic safety. Springfield traffic engineers are constantly looking at traffic volumes and patterns in an effort to reduce the number of crashes. They review all crashes that occur to see what caused the crash. In some instances, a change in the design of the intersection or in the signs can eliminate some crashes.
Education is another key element in traffic safety. Graduated driver's licenses and driver's education courses help educate drivers on ways to reduce their chances of being in a crash. The Respect Red campaign hopes to raise public awareness of red light runners in Springfield. By using Public Service announcements on radio and television, 90 Respect Red signs throughout town, and signs on City Utilities buses, we want to remind everyone on the road to stop on red. It sends the message that this is indeed a problem and that if you have a green light, always look to ensure that it's safe to proceed. Remember that it's of little comfort that you had a green light if you've been killed.