National Stop On Red Week: A Message from NCSR President Melissa Wandall

Join us Sunday, August 4 – Saturday, August 10 to Help Stop Red-Light Running


National Stop on Red Week 2013 begins this Sunday, August 4. Established in 2001, Stop on Red Week promotes safe driving and raises awareness about the dangers of red-light running. This week, and always, NCSR and our partners are working to stem the red-light running epidemic and we encourage you to stay tuned to our daily activities throughout the week and help us spread the word.

Red-light running is an epidemic in the United States – one that is fatal. My husband, Mark Wandall, was killed by a motorist who sped through a red light. Due to this dangerous driving habit, my husband was taken from me when I was nine months pregnant and my daughter has never known her father. Sadly, Mark’s collision is one of many each year that results from the careless decision to disobey a traffic signal. Red-light running is the leading cause of urban collisions, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 8,700 people were killed in intersection or intersection-related crashes in 2009. More than 2/3 of the victims of these collisions at signalized intersections are pedestrians, bicyclists, and other drivers – someone other than the careless driver who chose to speed through a red light.

Red-light running has a horrendous impact on those who are involved in the accidents, but it also greatly impacts families, friends, and entire communities. My daughter and I will forever feel Mark’s absence in our lives – as will the families of other victims. Mark’s friends will no longer benefit from his kindness or his advice, his presence or his help. And all of these losses only begin to capture the emotional impact.

At a time when budgets are tight, fatal and injury collisions are costing American communities millions of dollars. Used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the societal perspective captures the full scope of collision costs. The most recent perspective estimates that in 2012 one fatal crash costs $6.4 million to society. As the leading cause of urban collisions, red-light running is contributing to a significant portion of community costs.

This year as we recognize Stop on Red Week, we must promote an approach to reducing red-light running year round – one that combines the proven technology available to us, increased driver awareness programs, and elevating the red-light running issue in communities across the country. Automated safety enforcement reduces the prevalence of red-light running and improves driver behavior in the long term. A 2013 IIHS study found that red-light running rates decreased significantly at intersections with cameras. The most dangerous violations — those occurring 1.5 seconds into the red light cycle — dropped 86 percent. Many communities have found that this technology is a deterrent for red-light running that changes driver habits. In Miami, the local police department has discovered that 80 percent of drivers ticketed by a red-light safety camera do not re-offend. Simply put, the cameras reduce red-light running and save lives – they work.

While the cameras are an important part of the equation, we must also raise awareness and elevate the issue. National Stop on Red Week is a great time to start the conversation – but we must develop driver awareness programs that span the year and encourage safe driving year round. These efforts must include sharing the facts, advocating for strict enforcement of intersection laws and reminding drivers of the consequences of red-light running. We must carry over the heightened attention to red-light running during August’s Stop On Red Week into the rest of the year – working with local communities and police departments to elevate the issue and work towards solutions.

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— Melissa Wandall, President, NCSR