SALT LAKE CITY — More than 2.3 million drivers in 18 states ran a red light in 2011, according to the first-ever "Safer Roads Report 2012: Trends in Red-Light Running" from the National Coalition for Safer Roads.
And the most dangerous holiday for red light running is Memorial Day with 26,787 red-light running violations in 2011 — a more than 27 percent increase in violations than the average weekend.
"It's the most dangerous weekend,'' David Kelly, the coalition's president and a former acting administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told USA Today.
Kelly said it may have to do with the heavy congestion that comes from trying to get to a holiday destination. "So you see people sitting at a light and they may have to wait for a cycle and they don't want to wait for a second cycle," Kelly told USA Today. "So they go."
The National Coalition for Safer Roads, an organization that promotes the use of cameras to photograph and fine red light violations, released a press release on Friday that included highlights from the report:
- Christmas Day had the lowest number of red-light running violations in 2011, with 3,859 total — nearly 40 percent less than the average daily violation total.
- Friday proved to be the worst day for intersection safety in 2011 — red light cameras caught 378,122 total red-light running violations — while Sunday saw the fewest violations, with 289,603 total.
- Drivers most frequently ran red lights in the afternoon, with 30.7 percent (719,702) of all red-light running violations in 2011 occurring from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
And the data shows, as the report warned, "there is no time on the road when you are not at risk of encountering a red-light violator."
A 2005 ABC News story looked at red light cameras and found intersections that used the cameras saw a "40 percent decrease in violations on average." On the other hand, the story also said a study by the Texas Transportation Institute concluded "that extending a yellow light by 1.5 seconds would decrease red-light-running by at least 50 percent."
Kelly told USA Today the best way to end the accidents caused by red light running is to change intersections to roundabouts, because nobody can run a roundabout.