According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a 2008-2017 study that tracked ‘wrongful deaths caused by drivers running red lights’ has revealed the country has reached a 10-year high for these types of collisions, and Indiana is one of the leading offenders.
Within the 10-year nationwide study, 2009 represented the lowest number of red light-related wrongful deaths, totaling 715 victims. By contrast, 2017 saw a 31% increase, ballooning the number of wrongful deaths related to red light accidents to 939.
It should also be noted that the victims of these accidents include drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and/or pedestrians.
How dangerous are Indiana’s intersections becoming?
In 2017, Indiana recorded 29 wrongful deaths as a result of a driver running a red light. This represents an almost 50% increase over the average number of victims between 2008-2016.
Coincidentally, before this study was released, Boulton Law Group had published two separate blogs highlighting the growing concern our office has regarding the number of dangerous intersections in our state.
The first article highlighted central Indiana and a large number of roundabouts, while the second article targeted downtown Indianapolis and more traditional intersections. Each article also maps the locations of the named roundabouts and intersections as well as provides potential causes for accidents at these locations.
And while we list a number of well-known intersections with large amounts of traffic, our blogs barely scratch the surface when we examine OpenIndy’s Data Portal database, which claims to pinpoint all of the known intersections in Indianapolis and Marion County intersections.
Why are red light traffic deaths on the rise?
The majority of Indiana accident reports we examine involving intersection-related crashes will list “failure to yield right of way” as the primary cause of the crash. In most instances, this means the at-fault driver improperly turned in front of oncoming traffic, or the driver simply blew through a red light.
Any number of factors can cause a car accident that results in red light death, but the primary offenders (no surprises on this list) typically involve the following:
Distracted driving – We continue to rad about and talk to victims who were injured because another driver was attempting to multi-task. Mobile devices lead the way in terms of distractions, however, the list of possibilities is long, including dashboard electronics, food and drink, talking to passengers, applying make-up, etc.
Racing the yellow – Yellow lights are not an invitation to speed up. It is warning drivers to come to a stop. Too many times we have had to fight with insurance companies who claim their driver had the right of way, only to learn through our investigation and interviewing of witnesses, that their driver tried to beat a yellow light and did not in fact have the right of way.
Not paying attention – While similar to distracted driving, we thought inattention deserved its own heading. These accidents occur not because a driver is necessarily attempting to multi-task, but because they simply “zone out” as they approach an intersection and simply fail to see or respond to the traffic light.
Driving under the influence – As expected, driving under the influence continues to be a common cause of red light-related accidents. Whether it is drinking or any other number of controlled substances, a driver who is inebriated greatly increases the risk of failing to yield right of way to incoming traffic at an intersection.
A personal experience
Even more concerning is the fact that intersection-related crashes are very likely under-reported, as some people are uninsured and flee the scene, or drivers agree to handle the matter without police or insurance companies being contacted.
Specifically, a member of our staff recently witnessed a large SUV illegally pass through (north/south) the red light of an Indianapolis intersection at an extremely high rate of speed, making contact with the front bumper of a car attempting to drive through (east/west) the intersection on a green light.
The resulting collision tore the front bumper off of the car, throwing it several yards down the street, while the SUV barely braked and continued on without returning to the scene. If the car had entered the intersection a half-second sooner, it is likely the driver’s side door would have taken the full force of the collision, leading to horrific injuries and or death.
Stories like this remind us that it is always wise to proceed through any intersection with caution, even if you have the right of way.
Involved in a red light car accident? Talk to an experienced Indiana accident attorney.
Unlike some law firms, when you call the Boulton Law Group, you will speak to the firm’s founder and head litigator. Attorney Matt Boulton started the firm to provide injured people a combination of award-winning legal representation and exceptional customer service. He believes that every victim deserves a first-class experience when they call his firm.
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of an intersection or red light accident, Boulton Law Group offers a Zero Fee Guarantee. This means that you will never be charged a consultation fee and you owe the firm absolutely nothing until we win your case.
To speak to attorney Boulton now, call us at 317-350-2680, or write to us using our confidential contact form. We look forward to going to work for you!
Attorney Matt Boulton is an award-winning personal injury attorney with more than 20 years of experience helping seriously injured people throughout Indiana reclaim what was taken from them. His firm was created for for the client who expects exceptional service and passionate, successful legal representation.