My friend Jorge and I sometimes watch Russian Dash Cam videos on YouTube together. It’s not because we believe the motor vehicle accidents are particularly entertaining. We simply find the various scenarios oddly fascinating. Of all the accidents that have been recorded on various people’s dashboard or mirror mounted cameras, those caused by red light running are predominant.
We also watch these videos to remind us to take extra care while driving. I think they work for us on a subconscious level. Without even trying, both of us have set our cruise controls at lower speeds than usual. More importantly, Jorge and I are more watchful and proactive while motoring on city streets.
Russians may or may not have more traffic accidents than Americans, that’s not the reason for dashcams in their vehicles. Corrupt police and government officials are the driving force behind the popularity of Russian dash cam installations. Also, the abundance of “psychopaths” on Russian streets and roads is appalling.
People in the West are also beginning to install these cameras in cars and trucks. The trucking company that Jorge drives for installed dash cams in all of their vehicles two years ago. The cameras were installed for insurance purposes.
Only one of my friend’s company trucks has been involved in a major accident. It happened after a pickup ran a red light and slammed itself between the tractor and the trailer. Thankfully, nobody was killed, but the offending driver did require intensive hospitalization.
As is the case in Russia, Jorge’s dashcam has recorded many close calls on the roads. The most dangerous places are in cities, with most of the actual accidents being caused by red light running. This is one reason why Jorge’s employer commemorates National Stop On Red Week. It’s a reminder for all their drivers that red light running is particularly dangerous.
The National Coalition for Safer Roads, The Federal Highway Administration, and other organizations are partnering in efforts to promote National Stop On Red Week. You might see billboards or ads on buses and taxicabs reminding us of the event. Many radio and television stations will run public service announcements regarding red light running. Their may also be pre-scripted news story features airing as filler material.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that more than 36-percent of US drivers sometimes run red lights even though 73-percent of drivers acknowledge that red light running is unacceptable behavior. Two years ago, 697 people were killed and about 127,000 were hurt in red light running related wrecks. Approximately half of the fatalities were pedestrians, bicyclists, and passengers in other vehicles hit by the red light runners.
Other statistics include monetary costs. The NHTSA’s most recent “perspective estimates” revealed that one fatal crash may cost as much as $6,400,000 to society. Even if one incident of red light running does not result in an accident, if you’re caught, the traffic fine will cost you anywhere from $50 to $500 depending upon the jurisdiction and your driving record. You might even have to attend a driving school refresher course at your own cost.
In many communities, a cop doesn’t even need to be present at the intersection to catch you. Modern technology has provided cities with red light cameras. Sensors at street intersections trigger video cameras that record when vehicles pass by at speeds that indicate potential violations. City employees or employees of a privately owned vendor company analyze the video and decide whether or not an actual violation occurred. The image of the offending car and its license plate are then forwarded to the authorities.
In communities with automated red light enforcement, red light running rates have greatly decreased. The most dangerous aspect of the red light cycle is 1.5-seconds after the yellow light switches to red. Those types of accidents have decreased by about 86-percent where the cameras are used.
Regardless of whether or not automated red light enforcement is used, we all need to remember the high risks of pushing our luck at street and road intersections equipped with traffic signals. National Stop On Red Week is a good start in developing driver awareness of the hazards of red light running. If you need a further reminder, search YouTube for Russian Dash Cam videos.