Columnist William Warford recently wrote that he has avoided being in fatal crashes by always checking on incoming vehicles, whose drivers can be guilty of running red lights.

Depending on other motorists to strictly obey the traffic lights is not enough. This newspaper has to report on an unusual number of severe accidents that involve drivers who accelerate right through intersections where their light has turned to red.

In the 1950s, many of the rural intersections had no traffic lights or stop signs and these avoidable accidents were far too frequent, even though there were fewer cars on the roads than we now see. Our traffic arteries are getting more and more congested month by month, particularly in the municipalities.

But this isn’t just a local problem. On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Fatal Crashes Due to Running Stoplights Rise.” The data was obtained from a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The statistics show that 939 people were killed in such crashes in 2017, a 7% increase over the prior year and up 28% from five years earlier.

Nearly half of those killed in the red-light-running crashes were passengers or people in other vehicles and more than 5% were pedestrians or cyclists, according to the findings, which were based on an analysis of traffic fatalities data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

California, the most populous state with 39,536,653 inhabitants, was a close second to Texas in the total number of all fatal accidents, 3304. Our state totaled 3,602 in the number of deaths.

Texas, with a population of 28,394,596, topped out with 3,343 crashes with fatalities.

Arizona had the highest per capita rate of these “red light” fatalities and New Hampshire the lowest, researchers found.

The nationwide total of fatal crashes was 34,247 in 2017.

The rate of crashes resulting from drivers running red lights outpaces the 10% growth in overall fatalities on U.S. roads in the period, Brian Tefft, who oversaw the AAA Foundation study said.

“The last time there was a larger raw number of people killed in red-light-running crashes, there were over 41,000 people killed in all crashes nationwide,” he said.

The bottom line is, minute-by-minute defensive driving is necessary on a personal basis. Running red lights seems to be a too-popular deadly sport in these heavy traffic times.

Each individual driver has to look out for the safety of all people in the vehicle, plus other cars, plus pedestrians, bikers, and, in some cases, jaywalkers.  Take these admonitions to heart, you may save lives during your driving years.

We haven’t even touched on the millions of crash survivors who suffer crippling injuries in vehicular accidents.

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