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Two of Three See Other Drivers Run Red Lights Every Day, Says Survey As National Stop on Red Week Begins

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Two of Three See Other Drivers Run Red Lights Every Day, Says Survey As National Stop on Red Week Begins

Federal Highway Administration
September 4, 1998

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 4, 1998
Contacts: FHWA: Gail Shibley, 202-366-0660
Chrysler: Sonja Bultynck, 248-512-2725
FHWA 37-98

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Two of three Americans see other drivers run red lights every day, according to a survey released today to kick off National Stop on Red Week.

This nationwide week of awareness, the result of a partnership between the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), American Trauma Society and Chrysler Corporation, runs from Sept. 4-11 and features events in Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

The survey, released just before the Labor Day holiday and as children are returning to school, polled 800 licensed drivers between the ages of 18 and 65, and also found that:

  • Ninety-six percent of the drivers fear they will get hit by a red light runner when they enter an intersection.
  • One in three claim they personally know someone who has been injured or killed in a red-light-running crash -- similar to the percentage of people who know someone who was killed or injured by a drunk driver.
  • About 21 percent said they felt that drunk driving incidents are deceasing, but only six percent felt that incidents of red light running were decreasing

    "Children are our most precious possession, and their safety must be foremost on our minds as we end the summer season with Labor Day outings," U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater said. "Safety is President Clinton’s highest transportation priority, and observing red light signals -- always -- can prevent tragic injuries and deaths of pedestrians and motorists alike."

    According to the department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 1997, there were 1,114 traffic fatalities in intersections where drivers had failed to heed red light signals. Triple that number, 3,548, fatalities occurred in intersections where there were traffic signs or devices of some type.

    "The numbers suggest that, although people feel it’s wrong to run red lights, they’re still doing it," said Harry Teter, executive director of the ATS. "Along with Chrysler and the Department of Transportation, we’re trying to educate motorists that running red lights can have the same outcome as driving under the influence of alcohol -- injuries and deaths."

    The survey also asked drivers to speculate as to why other motorists run red lights. The overwhelming response -- 54 percent -- was that they were in a hurry. The survey results indicate that Americans need to be more proactive in assuming responsibility for their own and others’ safety.

    "Just as the Department of Transportation is dedicated to making the safest roadway network in the world and the American Trauma Society is committed to reducing the number of vehicle collision injuries, Chrysler is committed to manufacturing and marketing safe vehicles," said Robert Eaton, chairman and CEO of Chrysler Corporation. "National Stop on Red Week addresses an important component of traffic safety, the driver. Together, we can make a difference."

    The stop red light running campaign originated with the FHWA’s 1995 local community efforts. Early results of the campaign show that it has raised awareness of the dangers of red light running by 60 percent and reduced crashes at some intersections in some communities by 43 percent. Chrysler Corporation and the American Trauma Society joined the campaign this year.

    The American Trauma Society, based in Washington, D.C., has 180 hospital members and 26 state division chapters across the country that are implementing the red light running campaign. Each participating trauma hospital has a dedicated campaign coordinator to work with local law enforcement, engineering and safety professionals to promote safety messages to deter red light running.

    Chrysler said that it has committed tens of millions of dollars to safety education programs in addition to Stop Red Light Running, and has initiated a number of national safety education campaigns including:

  • Neon Drunk Driving Simulator, an interactive program which allows participants to experience firsthand the dangers of drunken driving without endangering lives;
  • The Back is Where It’s At, which emphasizes that the back seat is the safest place for children to ride in a motor vehicle; and
  • Do the buckle, a nationwide consumer initiative designed to communicate the importance of wearing seat belts.

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