Red light violations, car accidents increase over holiday

Many people may have spent this Memorial Day weekend enjoying the warm weather along Chicago’s lakeshore. Still others may have driven outside the city to vacation with family and friends. Memorial Day is known for heavy traffic volume around the country, and according to a new study by the National Coalition for Safer Roads, drivers’ behavior over this one weekend may lead to more car accidents.

Specifically, the study found that drivers ran red lights during Memorial Day weekend at a rate that far exceeded that on a typical weekend. Using figures gathered from 18 states, researchers tabulated over 2.3 million red light violations over the holiday weekend in 2011. If the data were extrapolated over the entire country, however, more than one car would run a red light every second of the holiday weekend.

The data do not provide an explanation for the marked spike in dangerous driving behavior, but the coalition’s president suggested people may be anxious to begin their holiday weekend and therefore take risks at intersections. Friday was the leading day for running a red light, which supports the argument that drivers may be rushing to start their weekend as soon as possible.

Drivers who run a red light ignore a substantial risk that their actions could cause severe injuries and death to other motorists. Victims may be able to hold them liable through a negligence or wrongful death suit. According to car crash data from 2009, approximately 130,000 people sustained injuries and nearly 700 people were killed because another driver decided to take the risk of driving through a red light.

Source: USA Today, “Memorial Day a peak time for running red lights, study says,” Charisse Jones, May 23, 2012.