Fatal intersection crashes are down, with a large percent of the reduction coming from a decrease in accidents involving red light running. According to a new report from the National Safety Council, fatal crashes at intersections with traffic lights decreased by 17% from 2005 to 2009. In the same five-year period, fatal intersection crashes involving red light running decreased by 27%.

The National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) was formed to ensure that trend continues. NCSR brings together industry leaders, community leaders and safety advocates to advance the use of life-saving red light safety cameras in our communities. Members of the coalition all share the belief that red light safety cameras play a powerful role in changing driver behavior.

“One of the most compelling findings of the report was that there was a substantially higher decrease in fatal intersection crashes involving red light running compared to those without red light running,” said NCSR Executive Director David Kelly. “We know that the increased use of red light safety cameras is making drivers more aware of their behavior.”

In 2009 alone, there were 30,797 fatal crashes throughout the nation. Red light running, however, was only one of the causes. In order to continue improving road safety, NCSR believes that drivers must practice safe driving measures including wearing seatbelts; driving at the posted speed limit; not talking or texting while driving; and following traffic signals.

“Fatalities and crashes are going down. If we want to see this trend continue, then we need to get serious about doing everything possible to make roads and intersections safe,” said Kelly. “That means expanding the use of red light safety cameras, which are one of law enforcement’s most vital lifesaving tools.”

This new report comes on the heels of a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which found that red light safety cameras helped save more than 150 lives in the 14 biggest U.S. cities from 2004 to 2008. Had the cameras been operating in all 99 metropolitan areas covered in the IIHS report, more than 800 lives could have been spared.

The study by the National Safety Council analyzed fatal crash statistics in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, using statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The District of Columbia, Florida, New York, Arizona and Nevada have the highest rate of fatalities at intersections with traffic lights.

Fatal and nonfatal statistics came from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) General Estimate System (GES) representing data years 2005 through 2009.

To find more information about improving road safety, visit www.saferoadssavelives.org and follow @SaferRoadsUSA on Twitter and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SaferRoadsUSA.