City of Phoenix combats red-light running

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- A man driving a Suburban ran a red light and slammed into a car in Phoenix Tuesday morning.

It happened at 51st Avenue and Bell Road, and police believe speed and impairment were factors in the accident. Both drivers were taken to the hospital.

The city of Phoenix said that intersection isn't the only one with red-light running issues, and the accident serves as a reminder of how dangerous it is to run a red light.

According to a recent study, officials at the City of Phoenix say two-thirds of those injured or killed in these types of accidents aren't even the ones who ran the red light; they're the ones struck by that driver.

"It's scary," said driver Craig Washington. Washington said he often sees drivers go through the red light. "Sometimes they see it and then floor it," he said.

He said he has to take extra precaution while on the road. "The minute it turns green, a lot of people will just take off. I always hesitate for a moment just to make sure that the intersection clears," said Washington.

Cary Riall said he does the same. "I look both directions to make sure there isn't someone who looks like they are going to try and jump it," he said.

According to the City of Phoenix, there were 1668 crashes in 2011 related to red-light runners, and 1630 in 2012; in six months of 2013 there were 795. There were a high number of injuries as a result of these accidents. There were 13 fatalities in 2011, 14 in 2014 and eight in the six months of 2013.

Kerry Wilcoxon, a traffic engineer for the city, said red light patrols, installing photo enforcement cameras, and red light public service announcements have helped decrease red-light running at some intersections.

"I don't know whether they are decreasing because people are afraid of getting a ticket, or if they really realize that running a red light is dangerous and can be a deadly thing," he said. The city hopes more drivers become conscious of the dangers of running a red light.

City officials said since 2010, the intersection at Bell Rd. and 51st Avenue has had more than 90 accidents, and more than 8 of them have been due to a red-light runner.