Although they know in theory that the practice is illegal, many drivers in the Austin area may be tempted to try and beat a light just as it is turning red. They may think that there is little harm in this practice since cross-traffic does not start traveling through an intersection immediately or because they do not see anyone coming. While some people who think this way may just get lucky and have nothing happen, the reality is that when drivers choose to run red lights, other people are the ones who get hurt.
According to a recent report, of those who died following a driver running a red light, half were either people in the vehicle that got struck or a passenger in the car that ran through the red light. An additional 5% of victims were either pedestrians or people on bicycles.
The reasons why people ran red lights and thereby caused fatal car accidents varied. Some connected the problem to distracted driving, which, as many Texans know, is an ongoing problem on the roads and highways of this state in part because of the prevalence of cell phones and other technology. Disturbingly, about one-third of motorists asked in a separate survey said that they had blown through a red light within the prior 30 days, even though they had seen the light. This survey suggests that, in many cases, drivers are choosing to ignore traffic signals, perhaps because they are in a hurry or for some other reason.
The recent report alarmingly noted that the number of fatalities due to people running red lights is as high as it has been in a decade. Many of the people who die, or get seriously hurt, in these accidents are not at fault for the loss and may be able to obtain compensation.