Running Red Lights: An Unnecessarily Risky Habit

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 4,059 people died in accidents caused by running red lights between 2014 and 2018. It also states that a family member is more likely to be injured in a red-light running accident than any other type of car accident. Each year, approximately 165,000 people are injured by drivers who run red lights. 

Running a red light is one of the most common causes of car accidents in urban areas. About one-third of drivers admitted to running a red light in the past month. Tragically, many drivers do not comprehend the dangers of running red lights until it is too late.

Massachusetts Traffic Laws Regarding Red Lights

When approaching a traffic signal, you must come to a full stop when the signal displays a steady red circle. You cannot proceed straight or make a left turn until the green light appears. If turning left, you must wait until your path is clear unless you have a green arrow. 

Drivers in Massachusetts may turn right on red, unless there is a sign prohibiting a right turn on red. Before turning right on red, you must come to a complete stop and confirm that no vehicles are approaching. You must also ensure no pedestrians or bicyclists are in your path before turning right on red.

A driver must also come to a complete stop for flashing red signals. The driver cannot proceed until he confirms that no approaching vehicle, pedestrian, or bicyclist is so close to the intersection as to constitute a hazard if the driver moves through the intersection. 

Why Do People Run Red Lights?

Many drivers admit to running red lights. In many cases, a yellow light is just changing to red when the driver crosses the intersection. However, some drivers run traffic signals that have definitely turned red.

Most of the time, a driver runs a red light because he is in a hurry. The driver may be running late or might simply be an impatient driver. However, some drivers run red lights because they are aggressive or reckless drivers.

Running red lights is a common sign of an aggressive or reckless driver. The driver may also fail to yield the right of way, perform improper lane changes, drive at excessive speeds, weave in and out of traffic, or tailgate. 

In some cases, a driver may run a red light because the driver is distracted. Distractions might include texting while driving, daydreaming, changing vehicle controls, and reaching for objects in the vehicle. The driver does not intend to run the red light, but does so because he is not focused on driving.

Other drivers may run red lights because they are speeding. They may not be able to stop in time to avoid running the red light. They are in the intersection before they realize that the light has turned red. 

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can also contribute to running a red light. Someone who is intoxicated may have impaired reasoning or other impairments that cause them to run the red light.

What are the Dangers and Consequences of Running Red Lights?

If you run a red light in Massachusetts, a police officer can issue you a traffic citation. You could be charged a fine and have points added to your driver’s license. Additional points could result in higher car insurance premiums.

Red light accidents are another serious consequence of running red lights. Intersection accidents can result in head-on collisions and T-bone (side-impact) crashes. These types of collisions have a high risk of catastrophic injuries and death for the drivers and passengers.

What Should I Do if I am Involved in a Red Light Accident?

Call 911 to report the accident and wait for the police to arrive. If you or another person is injured, request emergency medical services. 

Prompt medical attention gives you a better chance of making a full recovery from your car accident injuries. Delays in medical care could be used to argue that the accident did not cause your injuries. 

Keep careful notes and documentation of your damages and expenses. You could be entitled to reimbursement for lost wages and medical expenses. You may also recover compensation for your physical pain, permanent impairments, emotional suffering, and other damages.

Do not admit fault for the accident until you speak with a personal injury lawyer. If you are not at fault for the crash, you could recover compensation for your injuries and damages from the driver who caused the crash. 

Even if you contributed to the cause of the accident, you could recover some compensation for injuries. Talking with a lawyer ensures that you understand your legal rights and options before you make a decision that could hurt your chance of recovering money for an injury claim. 

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