Keep an eye on intersections this Memorial Day Weekend

Meera Pal,
John Aaron,

WASHINGTON – Days before what is predicted to be the most congested Memorial Day weekend in years, a new study warns the holiday travel period is the worst when it comes to red-light violations.

“People are anxious to get where they’re going,” says David Kelly, president and executive director of the National Coalition for Safer Roads.

“They’re not paying attention in the car to what they’re doing, they’re rushed because they’re in traffic, there’s so many different reasons,” he says.

In Maryland, the report found 700 violations Memorial Day last year and more than 200 violations in Virginia, specifically in Alexandria and Falls Church.

Memorial Day weekend saw a total of 26,787 red-light violations nationwide, when compared to average weekend violations of 19,388.

The coalition released its first-ever “Safer Roads Report 2012: Trends in Red-Light Running” which found that more than 2.3 million drivers in 18 states ran red lights in 2011.

However, there were more red-light violations over the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends than Memorial Day in Maryland.

“Also very busy travel weekends. A lot of people on the roads; lots of incidences of drinking and driving,” Kelly says.

Across the country, Christmas had the lowest number of violations in 2011, with 3,859.

Intersection-related vehicle accidents caused more than 8,500 deaths last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The new study also looked at the times of the day, in addition to the days of the week when drivers are most likely to run a red light.

The coalition found Friday is the worst day of the week for intersection safety. Safety cameras caught 378,122 red-light violations on Friday. Sunday was the safest, with 289,603 violations.

The afternoon (between 1 and 5 p.m.) was also the worst for red-light violations, with more than 30 percent of violations happening during the afternoon period.

The fewest violations occurred during the late night hours (between 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.), which makes sense since there are fewer people on the road during late night hours.

The analyzed cameras caught a total of 2,341,761 red light violations in 2011. Each camera recorded, an average of 1,889 violations during the year.

The study concludes “there is no time on the road when you are not at risk of encountering a red-light violator”

“We do want people to be more vigilant behind the wheel. Take responsibility for your actions. Make sure that you are not running yellow lights. A yellow light does not mean to go faster – it means to stop,” he says.

Overall red-light violations by holiday travel periods:

  1. Memorial Day (Friday, May 27 – Monday, May 30) – 26,787
  2. Independence Day (Friday, July 1 – Monday, July 4) – 25,874
  3. Halloween (Friday, October 28 – Monday, October 31) – 24,700
  4. Labor Day (Friday, Sept. 2- Monday, Sept. 5) – 24, 795
  5. Super Bowl (Friday, Feb 4 – Sunday, Feb. 6) – 18,472
  6. Christmas (Friday, Dec. 23 – Monday, Dec. 26) – 20,459
  7. Thanksgiving (Thursday, Nov. 24 – Sunday, Nov. 27) – 19,713

To read the full study by the National Coalition for Safer Roads, follow this link.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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