U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 23, 1999
FHWA, Virginia Miller, (202) 366-6056
DaimlerChrysler: Sheila Gruber McLean, (248) 512-2986
Kimberly Shults, (312) 729-4286
Secretary Slater: Survey
Shows Americans Run Red Lights Without
Regard for Consequences
"National Stop on Red
Week" Reminds Drivers to Stop on Red
Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced the results of a survey by the Stop
Red Light Running partnership revealing that 98 percent of Americans agree that
red light running is dangerous, but over half admit deliberately running red
lights because they are in a hurry.
The release of the survey
marks the second annual "National Stop on Red Week," which runs from
Sept. 24 to Oct. l. The program is a public/private partnership between the
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Trauma Society (ATS) and
"I applaud this
partnership and participating communities for their efforts to improve safety,
which is President Clinton's highest transportation priority," Secretary
Slater said. "Observing red lights can prevent tragic injuries and deaths
of pedestrians and motorists alike."
The research also provides
new evidence that red light runners do not conform to a set demographic the
dangerous practice reaches across drivers of all age, economic groups and
gender. The perpetrators are everyday people; professionals, blue-collar
workers, unemployed, homemakers, parents, and young adults.
According to U.S.
Department of Transportation statistics, drivers who run red lights are involved
in 89,000 crashes a year, inflicting more than 80,000 injuries and nearly 1,000
deaths. In addition, from 1992 to 1998, the number of fatal crashes at
intersections has increased by 16 percent, while all other types of fatal
crashes have increased by only five percent.
"These numbers remind
me of the state of affairs some years ago with drunk driving, where a lot of
otherwise decent people knew better, but did it anyway because they didn't
realize how truly perilous it was," said ATS Executive Director Harry Teter.
"So the message is clear we've got to do a better job of consciousness
raising' of making people aware that running red lights simply is not
scientists involved with the survey hypothesized that "frustration"
and "road rage" would represent what most people perceived as the
cause of red light running, the results proved otherwise. Only 15.8 percent of
respondents cited those reasons, while nearly half (47.8) admitted to being
prompted by nothing more complicated than being in a hurry.
"Red light running is
not only rude, it's life threatening," said Susan Cischke,
DaimlerChrysler vice president for vehicle safety and regulatory affairs.
"It has the same effect as driving under the influence in terms of
probability of serious injury and death."
The survey focused on what
drivers reported to be their red light running behaviors, as opposed to what
they believed about red light running. Overall, 55.8 percent of the respondents
admit running red lights. Those in lower technology (68.3) and blue-collar jobs
(59.7), as well as unemployed (68.8), and non-parents (65 percent) reported
significantly more red light running than respondents in other categories.
Professionals (59.7) and
homemakers (54.8) also rank high. Parents with children less than 20 years old
(65.6) are likely to run red lights more than parents of older children (40.8).
Respondents with bachelors and post-graduate degrees rank at 58.4 and 56 percent
The survey also found that
a majority of drivers (80.5) were more frustrated with discourtesy on the roads
than they were with any other traffic problem, including congestion.
The poll was conducted by
the Social Science Research Center at Old Dominion University and has a margin
of error of plus or minus three percentage points. It queried 880 licensed
drivers ages 18 and older on behalf of the Stop Red Light Running program.
This year's National
Stop on Red Week is "A Call to Action" to encourage more traffic
safety advocates, law enforcement agencies, hospitals, law makers and others, to
help raise awareness about the danger of running red lights.
Communities across the
country are raising awareness of red light running through press conferences,
increased enforcement, and distribution of educational materials and other
activities. The Stop Red Light Running program provides those interested in
promoting highway safety with step-by-step guides for program development and
grants for local implementation. Additionally, a toll-free number (877-STOP-555)
and a Web site (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/stoprlr)
are available for further information.
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