Audrey Fraizer

Audrey Fraizer

Story Vault

By Audrey Fraizer

Do you remember playing the game “Red Light, Green Light” as a child? Most people played that game growing up, but as adults, it seems many have forgotten what it means when the light turns red.

Simply speaking, it can kill people; we die because drivers run lights that have turned red before they reach the intersection.

This afternoon during my daily walk, I saw examples epitomizing negligent driving. A middle-aged man in a black pickup truck gunned the engine when the light turned red, and he was still at least 50 feet from the corner. He was hunched over the steering wheel as if living a Walter Mitty fantasy of racing in the Indianapolis 500.

It’s not only men that are culpable of automobile homicide.

Three blocks farther along during my afternoon walk, a woman close to my age (middle-age-plus) bolted right on a red without so much as glancing at the crosswalk. She was far too busy driving to wherever she was going to care about the p---eople her red SUV could have barreled down dead.

From where I stood, neither of these drivers appeared to have cellphones in hand, although I certainly see a lot of that during my daily bike rides and walks.

I don’t think the problem is specific to Utah roads and the state’s failure to enforce traffic laws, and I certainly don’t think the majority is out to put notches on steering wheels to signify another successful road kill. I think it’s a matter of self-absorption. The drivers are distracted by their worlds; they fail to recognize the jeopardy they are putting others in. They essentially don’t care.

The aggressive driving behavior bugs me to no end, especially when looking at the statistics.

Red-light running is the leading cause of urban crashes and, according to the Federal Highway Administration, about 100,000 accidents and 1,000 deaths occur in the U.S. each year because one of the drivers involved was in too much of a hurry to stop at a red light. The driver accelerates instead, jeopardizing drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Fridays and holidays are the most hazardous along with certain holidays. Memorial Day is the worst.

A crash caused by a driver who runs a red light is more likely to result in serious injury or death because they’re almost always T-bone crashes, where the front of one vehicle collides with the side of another. Since the side of an automobile is one of the weakest points, it is far more vulnerable to an impact. Most of the victims are the drivers of the other car or pedestrians.

Running a red light might save—at the most—two minutes. Two minutes. It’s about the same amount of time it takes to play a round of rock-paper-scissors or fill and drink a glass of water. Two minutes. Does that justify the potential of taking somebody’s life? I don’t think so. And I wish more people would think about that the next time they are given the choice to stop or run.