Don’t Run the Red!

I can’t believe the number of people who run red lights in Auckland. On Friday I thought I might keep a list for a week of all the people I witness driving through red lights at intersections. I had to give up because there were way too many. In 1 1/2 business days plus a weekend I have watched more than 30 cars drive through red lights, one of which was a young woman (I’m being polite) who only just missed plowing into me. I could just about count the freckles on her face and see the colour of her eyes as she looked at me as she drove past.

There is a horrendous TV advertisement showing a dark Stephen Kingtype carny guy spinning a Lotto style Winning Wheel at an intersection and a shot of a car driving straight through the driver door of another car at an intersection as the wheel stops on ‘Death’. Several people have commented on how scary the advertisement is, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping people from doing this. Just 5 minutes ago on my way back to the office, I stopped at an orange light and about 4 seconds after I stopped an Armourguard van sped past me on the outside lane just missing traffic on their way through a red light. 2 seconds later and it would have been a major accident involving at least 3 cars who wouldn’t have had a hope of seeing him. I was so shocked I forgot to get his registration number.

On the 2nd of January this year (a public holiday when you wouldn’t expect city traffic to be in a hurry) in one intersection in Auckland City 418 vehicles ran the red light! I’m sure Tristram Ave and the Constellation Off Ramp on the Northern Motorway would rival that. This morning while waiting to get through that intersection 2 lots of 4 cars blocked the main highway by driving into the intersection when there was nowehere for their cars to go.

Another report said that in a 20 day trial in Auckland of 10 intersections, there were 341,000 incidents of red light running. It went on to say that over 5 years from 2000 to 2005 in Auckland city there were 399 crashes due to people running red lights! How can so many people be so thick. It doesn’t matter how you rationalise it, it is like playing Russian Roulette. People may be in a hurry, late for an appointment, busy texting and don’t look at the signal in time, personally I don’t care what the reason is, there is none that is acceptable yet people do it in their thousands, every day.

This isn’t new and it isn’t limited to Auckland as some would like to think, but given that probably half of the nations cars are in Auckland, there will be more. But in a study in Dunedin in 2004, a 3rd of crashes at traffic light controlled intersections involved people driving through red lights.

There are lots of studies around the world on this subject by transport authorities, by councils, by insurance organisations including those that support red light cameras and those against. The thing is, if people used common sense, this situation wouldn’t occur in the first place.

The chances are that somewhere in Auckland today, someone will be seriously hurt or injured because someone drive through a red light. The same will happen tomorrow. How would you feel if the victim was your child, your mum or your dad? How would you feel facing the victim’s family in court and how would you feel for the rest of your life if you were the driver who was in a bit of a hurry?

There is no excuse, no reason, it can have terrible consequences and yet thousands of people within 10km of where I sit writing this will be doing it in the next 2 hours! Stop and think people. The next victim could be someone you know and love.