Red-Light Running (Short Verion)

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FHWA logo.
FHWA Office of Safety Logo: Safe Roads for a Safer Future, Investment in roadway safety saves lives.

Photograph of two cars wrecked in a crash.

speaker notes:

This is an approximately 30 minute presentation on the topic of red-light running (RLR). Topics covered include:

  • Nature of the problem
  • Definitions of RLR
  • Safety facts about RLR
  • Crash types associated with RLR
  • Documents available on intersection safety and RLR
  • Countermeasures for RLR problems

slide 2

Traffic Signals

  • There are at least 3 million intersections in the United States.
  • At least 300,000 are signalized.

Photograph of a stoplight head.

 

speaker notes:

Major Points to Make:

  • These are very gross estimates. There is no nation-wide inventory of traffic signals. The point to make is that roughly 10% (but likely even less) of the intersections in the United States are signalized.

slide 3

Intersection Fatalities

  • There were 8,657 intersection fatalities in 2007.
Pie chart indicates that 65 percent of fatalities occurred at unsignalized intersections, 31 percent occurred at signalized intersections, and 4 percent were unknown.

speaker notes:

Major Points to Make:

Even though signalized intersections make up only 10% of intersections in the U.S., signalized intersections account for nearly a third of the fatalities that occur at intersections.

Source: FARS database, crashes classified as either "intersection" or "intersection-related"


slide 4

What is red-light Running?

  • Permissive yellow rule:
    • Driver can legally enter intersection during entire yellow interval
    • Violation occurs if driver enters intersection after onset of red
  • Restrictive yellow rule:
    • Driver can neither enter nor be in intersection on red
    • Violation occurs if driver has not cleared intersection after onset of red

speaker notes:

Major Points to Make:

  • Discussion opportunity. Ask the question before revealing the rest of the slide. Builds on one click.
  • Question: What is red-light Running?
  • Answer: Depends on the definition of what a yellow light means.
  • The permissive yellow rule is that stated in the MUTCD and Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC).
  • 37 states + DC have laws in substantial conformity with the meaning of the yellow and red indications in the MUTCD and UVC. Another 9 states require motorists to stop on yellow but also drive cautiously through the intersection on the red if too close to stop safely.
  • The definition of a violation for permissive yellow is not technically correct depending how the term "intersection" is defined. According to the MUTCD and UVC, a violation occurs if the motorists crosses the stop line after onset of the red, or if none, the crosswalk, or if none the intersection.
  • Four states—LA, TN, RI, WV—prohibit vehicles from crossing the intersection on red. The laws in these four states are not in conformity with the meaning of the yellow and red indications specified in the MUTCD.

slide 5

Intersection Definition

Aerial photograph shows the center part of a 4-way signalized intersection highlighted in red. The red shading also covers the areas on the approaching travel lanes between the edge of the stop bar and the square that is the intersection proper, including those segments of crosswalks that run between the stop bar and the center of the intersection.


speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • A driver is running a red-light if his or her vehicle enters the red shaded area, after the light turns red. According to the MUTCD, the boundary for a red-light violation begins at the marked stop line. If there is no stop line, then the boundary begins at the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection. If there is no crosswalk or stop line, the intersection begins at the extension of the curb line or roadway edge.
  • Some states are using the extension of the curb line to mark the boundary for red-light running regardless of whether there are stop lines or crosswalk. This practice is not consistent with the meaning of the red signal in the MUTCD.

slide 6

Safety Facts About Red-Light Running

Line graph depicts red-light running fatalities from 2000 to 2007. Fatalities are slightly lower in 2007 than they were in 2000.

Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov


speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • This graph shows the latest data available on red-light running crashes.
  • This data is estimated from federal crash data.
  • Crash data does not specifically isolate red-light running as a causal factor in a crash.
  • Overall there has been very little change (perhaps a slight trend downward) in red-light running fatalities.

slide 7

Safety Facts About Red-Light Running

Line graph depicts the total number of red-light running crashes, number of persons injured, and number of injury crashes for each year from 1997 to 2004. The data trends are roughly parallel as they edge downward over time.

Source: Establishing a Uniform Definition of Red-Light Running Crashes, ITE Journal, March 2006.


speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • This graph shows the latest data available on red-light running crashes.
  • This data is estimated from federal crash data.
  • Crash data does not specifically isolate red-light running as a causal factor in a crash.
  • There appears to be a general trend downward in red-light running crashes for the data shown.

slide 8

Safety Facts About Red-Light Running

  • Red-light running crashes are more likely than other crashes to cause injury
  • On urban roads, fatal RLR crashes are more likely than other fatal crashes
  • Fatal RLR crashes are somewhat more likely to occur during the day

Source: Prevalence and Characteristics of red-light Running Crashes in the United States, Accident Analysis and Prevention, 1999


speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • red-light running crashes have some characteristics that may not necessarily be true for other types of crashes.
  • This may seem obvious, but they happen at very specific locations (intersections with signals) as opposed to, say, rural run-off road crashes that can occur in an "infinite" number of locations.

slide 9

Types of Crashes

Iconic images depicting a right-angle crash, where vehicles approaching the intersection at right angles intersect in a crash; a rear-end crash, where one vehicle cannot stop for the light in time and crashes into the vehicle stopped in front of it; and a left-turn crash, in which an oncoming vehicle is hit by a vehicle attempting to cross its path.

speaker notes:

Major Points to Make:

  • These are the three most common types of crashes associated with red-light running.
  • However, these types of crashes are not exclusively related to red-light running. Therefore, when investigating the causal factors of crashes, it is always important to review the police reports to determine what may have caused the crash.
  • Depending on the crash type and causal factor(s), different countermeasures may be applicable.

slide 10

Red-Light Running Studies

  • 4% of Americans reported running red-lights
    • 1% run them "often"
    • 3% run them "sometimes"
  • 97% of drivers feel that other drivers running red-lights are a major safety threat
  • 1 in 3 people claim they personally know someone injured or killed in a red-light running crash

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • A lot of research has been done in recent years focusing on red-light running.
  • Considered a hot topic for many jurisdictions.

Sources:

  • First 2 bullet points: National Survey of Speeding and Other Unsafe Driver Actions, Vol. 2: Findings, Report No. DOT HS 809 730, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, May 2004.
  • Third bullet point: A Nationwide Survey of red-light Running: Measuring Driver Behaviors for the "Stop red-light Running" Program, June-August, 1999, Old Dominion University for DaimlerChrysler Corp

slide 11

Types of Red-Light Runners

Graphic indicates there are two types of red-light runners: unintentional, which can be mitigated by engineering countermeasures, and intention, which can be mitigated by enforcement countermeasures.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • red-light runners are generally categorized into unintentional violators and intentional violators.
  • In general engineering countermeasures should help address the unintentional violations and enforcement countermeasures should help address the intentional violations.

slide 12

Effective Programs

Iconic image depicting the interrelationship between engineering, education, and enforcement.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • This is probably the most important slide of the whole presentation.
  • To truly be successful in combating a red-light running problem, a holistic (comprehensive) approach must be taken.
  • To just focus on one aspect is not a good approach and will likely fail.
  • However, it should be mentioned that looking at "engineering" countermeasures should always be a step taken before increased enforcement. The point is that there should be a plan that takes into account all three aspects.

slide 14

The First Step

  • The first step to addressing red-light running is to conduct a thorough field review.
Screenshot of a sample assessment sheet for engineering countermeasures for red-light running.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • This is the first step to addressing a concern at a particular intersection. The step before this would be to identify intersections that are candidates for reducing red-light running. There are numerous methods for identifying candidate locations that are not addressed in this presentation. This type of analysis will be dependent on crash data that the local jurisdiction has access to.
  • The engineer responsible for the intersection should always conduct a thorough on-site review of the intersection prior to the jurisdiction increasing enforcement.
  • Several checklists are available for use:

slide 14

Intersection Safety Resources

  • NCHRP Report 500 Volume 12
  • Guide sheets
  • Safety Strategies brochure
  • Signalized Intersections: Informational Guide
Collage of the cover pages for the resources listed on this slide.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • FHWA has numerous resources available to help traffic and transportation engineers analyze intersections from a safety viewpoint. The documents shown in the slide are just examples (there are plenty more).
  • Web sites will be shown at the end of the presentation.
  • Many are free to download from the Internet.

slide 15

Red-Light Running Resources

  • red-light Camera Systems: Operational Guidelines
  • Making Intersections Safer: A Toolbox...
  • Field Guide for Inspecting Signalized Intersections...
Collage of the cover pages for the resources listed on this slide.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • FHWA has numerous resources available to help traffic and transportation engineers analyze intersections from a safety viewpoint. The documents shown in the slide are just examples (there are plenty more).
  • Web sites will be shown at the end of the presentation.
  • These are downloadable in HTML and PDF formats.

slide 16

Engineering Countermeasures

  • Improve signal visibility
  • Improve line of sight
  • Improve signal conspicuity
  • Increase likelihood of stopping
  • Improve signal timing
  • Eliminate the need to stop
A collage of photos depicting a post mounted warning beacon in advance of signalized intersection, a roundabout in a suburban setting, the approach to an urban intersection with the signal on the yellow phase, and a multi-lane intersection depicting one signal head per approach lane.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • There are numerous engineering countermeasures that can be implemented. Countermeasures should be selected carefully in order that they address the types of crashes that are occurring.
  • The LONG version of this presentation goes into very specific details about all of these types of countermeasures.
  • Photos are examples of various countermeasures. Clockwise from upper right:
    • Increasing likelihood of stopping by installing advanced flashers
    • Eliminate need to stop by constructing roundabouts
    • Improve signal timing by ensuring yellow intervals are timed properly
    • Improve signal visibility by installing one signal head per approach lane


slide 17

The Next Step

  • Follow up countermeasures with observation
  • Number of red-light runners can be surrogate for improved safety
  • If unsuccessful, look towards enforcement countermeasures
Photograph of an engineer performing observations at a signalized intersection.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Engineers need to observe traffic behavior to see if any engineering countermeasures implemented were helpful in reducing RLR.
  • Doesn't make sense to wait for 2-3 years of crash data to come through, so simply recording number of red-light runners can serve as a surrogate for the more typical safety measures.

slide 18

Enforcement Countermeasures

  • Increased enforcement
  • Enforcement assistance lights
  • Automated enforcement
Collage of photos depicting a pole-mounted red-light camera, a photo enforcement sign, and a signal enforcement light mounted to the base of a mast-arm mounted signal head.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • If engineering countermeasures are unsuccessful at reducing red-light running, enforcement countermeasures may need to be implemented.
  • The LONG version of this presentation goes into very specific details about all of these types of countermeasures.
  • Photos are examples of various countermeasures. From left to right:
    • Right light camera installation
    • red-light photo enforcement sign
    • Enforcement assistance light (also called red-signal enforcement lights, white lights, tattletale lights, and rat lights)


slide 19

Education Countermeasures

Collage of informational document covers.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Education countermeasures can be done in conjunction with both engineering and enforcement countermeasures.
  • Web sites, posters, brochures, drivers education training, community meetings, radio and TV PSAs, Internet "ads"

slide 20

For More Information

FHWA Office of Safety
http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
www.iihs.org

Institute of Transportation Engineers
http://www.ite.org/safety/

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
http://safety.transportation.org/

Red Means Stop Coalition
http://www.redmeansstop.org/


speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • These web sites can be accessed for further information on the material contained in this presentation.

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Jeffrey Shaw

708-283-3524

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