Red Light Runner Crashes in Virginia

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Red light runners cause hundreds of deaths every year in the United States. Tens of thousands of people suffer serious injuries at intersections every year.

Red light running is dangerous because these accidents can lead to head-on or T-bone collisions at intersections. These are some of the most dangerous types of car accidents.

At the Smith Law Center, our experienced attorneys represent the victims of red light runners. As well as other drivers or passengers, motorcyclists, cyclists, and pedestrians are often injured or killed in these accidents. 

How Common Are Red Light Running Accidents?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, red light runners killed just over 800 people in 2016. About half of the fatalities were bicyclists, pedestrians, and people in other vehicles who were struck by the red light runners. Approximately 140,000 people are injured every year by drivers who fail to stop on a red light.

An Institute study of crashes in urban areas found crashes involving drivers who ran red lights, stop signs and other traffic controls were the most common types of crash, accounting for 22 percent of accidents. Injuries were reported in 39 percent of the crashes involving motorists who ran traffic controls. 

What is the Definition of Red Light Running? 

A motorist commits a traffic violation if she or she enters an intersection after a signal turns red. Motorists who are inadvertently already at the intersection at the time the signal changes are not red light runners. However, when a right turn on red is allowed, drivers who do not come to a complete stop before turning may be red light runners. Turning right on red at intersections where you are not allowed to turn right on red is considered an offense. 

What is Virginia’s Red Light Law? 

Under Virginia law § 46.2-833, drivers must stop and remain stopped at a steady red light, except in the direction indicated by a steady green arrow. 

When a steady amber light is shown traffic yet to enter the intersection, including the crosswalks, should stop if it is “not reasonably safe to continue.”

However, drivers already in the intersection should continue to move until the intersection has been cleared.

A flashing circular red indicates that traffic should stop before entering the intersection. This traffic must yield the right-of-way to walkers and traffic already in the intersection.

Does Virginia Allow a Left Turn on Red?

Some states do not permit left turns on red. In Virginia, drivers are allowed to turn left after stopping at a red light at the intersection of one-way streets. A driver can make a left on red from a one-way street onto another one-way street in Virginia as long as the road is clear and the driver stopped. 

Aggressive Driving and Red Light Running 

Red light running is often caused by dangerous and aggressive driving. Motorists try to beat a light because they are in a hurry. Alternatively, drivers can be distracted and not realize a light has turned red. This behavior is very dangerous. Intersections are busy places and red light running often causes chain reaction or multi-vehicle crashes. 

Do Red Light Cameras Reduce Red Light Running? 

Many intersections in Hampton Roads have red light cameras that are meant to deter red light runners. They were placed on some dangerous intersections in Newport News including the intersection between Jefferson Avenue and Oyster Point Road, one of the busiest and hazardous on the Virginia Peninsula.

Although the cameras appeared in 2012, the intersection remains an accident hot stop. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, more than 350 accidents have been reported here since 2014.

The cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach also have red light cameras.

One study in Virginia suggested red light cameras reduce violations of traffic signals by as much as 67 percent. Other research suggests they reduce T-bone collisions.

However, a study reported in Scientific American suggested the overall effects on vehicle safety may be contradictory.  

The article stated some drivers who would have otherwise continued to proceed through the intersection on a yellow or red will suddenly stop at intersections equipped with cameras.

Making a sudden stop at an intersection is a significant cause of rear-end accidents. The article suggests more drivers may be hurt in rear-enders at intersections while the number of T-bone accidents will likely fall. 

Contact an Experienced Virginia Red Light Runner Crash Attorney 

Red light runner crashes in Virginia occur too often in our distracted society. The injuries sustained in these wrecks are typically severe. The attorneys at the Smith Law Center help drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians and others who are injured at intersections. Please call us today for a free and confidential consultation at 757.244.7000.