Arizona Top State in Red-Light Fatal Crashes

Running a red light is an act of recklessness that can kill. When a driver fails to stop at a red light, he or she puts others’ lives in jeopardy. Many factors can make this traffic violation result in fatal accidents. Red-light running often comes with behaviors such as speeding or drunk driving. According to a new study by AAA, Arizona tops the charts as the state with the highest number of red-light fatal accidents in the country. The data showed 352 deaths in red-light running crash in Arizona from 2008 to 2017.

National Red-Light Running Data

Arizona topped the charts in per capita car accidents, not the number of accidents alone. The state with the highest number of fatalities related to red-light running over the last 10 years is California with 1,153 deaths. The second highest is Texas (971). The state with the fewest red-light running fatalities is Vermont, with just 3 deaths in 10 years. Arizona has a per capita death rate of 5.0. The second state for per capita number of red-light running fatalities is Nevada (4.9). Nevada recorded 147 deaths from 2008 to 2017. New Hampshire had the lowest rate of deaths per capita (0.4).

About 28% of deaths that occur at intersections in the U.S. result from a driver ignoring and running the red light. Almost half (46%) of victims who die in red-light running crashes are passengers in the vehicles involved, while 35% are the drivers who run the lights. Another 5% are bicyclists and pedestrians, the road’s most vulnerable users. When a driver runs a red light, he or she makes the reckless decision to put others’ lives in danger. Doing so can result in deadly car accidents.

Why Do Drivers Run Red Lights?

The most recent Traffic Safety Culture Index from AAA says 85% of drivers surveyed agreed running a red light was very or extremely dangerous, yet about 3 in 10 drivers admitted to running a red light in the 30 days prior to the survey. Drivers 25 to 39 were the least likely to consider red-light running dangerous, while drivers 60 to 74 were the most likely. Teens 16 to 18 accounted for the highest percentage of drivers that approved of red-light running (16.7%), followed by drivers 19 to 24 years old (12.7%). Most drivers (55%) believe the police will catch red-light runners.

Drivers 19 to 24 admitted to running red lights in the past month the most often (36.4%), while those 60 to 74 did it the least often (24.2%). Men are slightly more likely to run red lights than women (32.6% vs. 30.2%, respectively). In Arizona, 39 people lost their lives because drivers ran red lights in 2017. Drivers in Arizona have the highest odds of getting into intersection accidents compared to any other state. Contributing factors include speeding, lack of accountability, the belief that the police will not catch them, the belief that it is safe, distracted driving, reckless driving and drunk driving.

Preventing Red-Light Running in Arizona

Shedding light on serious traffic issues using AAA data can motivate lawmakers to institute real changes. In Arizona, discovering the state has the highest rate of red-light running fatalities in the country should push for new laws and safety efforts. Installing more red-light cameras, for example, could reduce the risk of a related accident by 30%. Red-light cameras at intersections with the highest number of accidents could save the most lives. Statistically, the deadliest intersections in Arizona are in the state’s major cities.

  • 67th Avenue and McDowell Road (Phoenix)
  • 67th Avenue and Indian School Road (Phoenix)
  • 59th Avenue and Indian School Road (Phoenix)
  • 1-17 and Happy Valley Road (Mesa)
  • University of Phoenix roads (Tempe)

Red-light cameras can hold risky drivers accountable and reduce the odds of people running red lights. Paired with greater law enforcement efforts and community safety initiatives, cities in Arizona may be able to bring down the number of drivers breaking the law. Communities in Arizona should regularly evaluate their red-light running programs using crash data to identify areas that could improve. Well-run programs statistically support safer driving practices.