How To Avoid Running A Red Light and Causing A Car Accident
Many red light car accidents can be avoided. Even young children can tell you that a red traffic light is a symbol for drivers to stop their cars. Sadly, red light signals are disregarded or ignored every day, and good people are being killed or terribly injured.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 165,000 people are injured and 762 people die, annually, from red-light related car accidents.
This week, a young mother, Sarah Fortenberry, lost her life when her fiancée allegedly ran a red light. Thankfully, Sarah’s fiancée and their 5 month-old baby survived the accident, but their lives will never be the same.
Red light car accidents like Sarah Fortenberry’s make my heart feel heavy. As a personal injury attorney, I help my clients receive compensation for the injuries and harm they have received, but how does one determine the value of a mother and a fiancée? How much money would make a client feel as if there have truly been compensated for such a loss? The short answer is that they will never be sufficiently compensated.
Instead of resolving red-light injuries through lawsuits and settlements, I believe the better option is to take proactive steps that can potentially decrease the frequency of red light collisions. We can’t control the actions of other drivers, but here are a few pointers that may decrease your chances of running a red light: Be prepared for the light to turn yellow.
Be prepared for the light to turn yellow
We all know that traffic lights cycle from green to yellow and then to red, but we don’t always know how long the light has been green. When you approach an intersection, don’t falsely assume that you will be able to make it through the intersection before the light turns yellow or red. Be prepared to move your foot from the gas to the brake. You can even do “cover braking,” which is a technique I still remember being taught by my driver’s education teacher. “Cover breaking” simply involves taking your foot off the gas and placing the foot on top of the brake pedal without pushing down. This is a great technique that cuts down your reaction time in situations where a quick stop is a possibility.
Don’t drive drowsy
It only takes a few seconds for a light to cycle from green to red. If you are driving while drowsy, you might not notice that your green light has turned red until it is too late. The best solution to not driving while drowsy is getting a sufficient amount of sleep. Unfortunately, work school, newborn babies, and many other obligations create situations where people are chronically drowsy. There’s no shame in working so hard that you become tired, but it’s important to be honest with yourself and “draw the line” if you need to get behind the wheel of a car. Instead of jeopardizing your life, and the lives of others, you can call a friend, take a cab, try to avoid driving late at night, or simply stay home if that is an option.
Don’t be a distracted driver
Texting and driving is still legal in parts of Texas, but it’s a significant cause of red light car accidents. Even though it’s legal, texting and driving can be very dangerous. The few seconds you spend responding to a text or updating your Facebook status are more than enough time for a green light to turn red. Put your phone down, exit the roadway if you have an urgent text that requires an immediate response, or let a passenger respond for you.
Drive at a safe speed to avoid red light car accidents
Speed limits are the maximum (not the minimum) speed you should drive. In other words, you don’t have to drive 50 mph simply because you are in a 50 mph zone. You can, and should, drive below the speed limit if the conditions make a slower speed reasonable. Such conditions can include rain, snow, ice, glaring sun, road construction, or traffic. Don’t be afraid to drive a little slower simply because you’re unfamiliar with the area. Slowing down will help decrease the chance of traffic signals “jumping out” at you.
Look at pedestrian lights
Pedestrian signal lights are obviously different from standard traffic lights, but many pedestrian lights begin to blink just prior to the main traffic light turning yellow. People driving cars should not rely on whether a pedestrian light is blinking, or not, but a blinking pedestrian light might be a sign that the traffic light is about to turn yellow and that a driver should be prepared to slow down and stop.
As you can see, there are multiple techniques and strategies that can lessen the chance of a red light car accidents. Mike “Big Mike” Allbee is an experienced car accident lawyer who has helped thousands of people who have been injured in car accidents. Feel free to contact us if you have been injured and want to know your legal rights. Also, please comment below if you have other suggestions that prevent people from running a red light.