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The consequences of running a red light

Running a red light is a major safety risk at intersections in California and across the rest of the country. The Traffic Safety Facts 2008 Report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that drivers who run red lights caused 762 deaths in that year. Additionally, it is estimated that red-light runners cause about 165,000 injuries every year.

Under the permissive yellow rule in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices issued by the Federal Highway Administration, drivers can legally enter an intersection while the traffic light is yellow and are only in violation of traffic law if they enter the intersection after the traffic light turns red. This means that the traffic light could turn red after the driver is in the intersection but before the driver has cleared the intersection without the driver being in violation of traffic law. In a few states, however, drivers are required to stop or clear the intersection before the light turns red.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about 50 percent of the individuals who die in red-light running accidents are the people who the red-light runners hit. A 1999 study found that one in three people say that someone they know was injured or killed in a crash involving a red-light runner.

Additionally, the NHTSA found in 2004 that 97 percent of drivers believe that others who run red lights seriously threaten everyone's safety. An AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey discovered in 2010 that although about 33 percent of drivers report running a red light within the 30 days prior to the survey, almost 93 percent of drivers believe that it is unacceptable to run a red light.

Drivers who run red lights could cause serious accidents in the intersections. Pedestrians and other motorists who are injured in these accidents might want to consult with a personal injury attorney in order to learn about the legal recourse that they may have for seeking compensation from the at-fault motorist.

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