The red (light) peril

August 30, 1991

Anyone who spends any time at all driving in Maryland, and in Baltimore city in particular, will hardly be surprised at the finding of the Safety Council of Maryland that running red lights has become epidemic. If you doubt that, just stand for 10 minutes at any busy intersection in the city at rush hour, and you'll conclude that the incidence of red-light running is at least 100 times greater than the 6,000 to 8,000 tickets that are handed out each year for that dangerous form of lawbreaking.

If there was anything surprising about the Safety Council's report, it's that the death toll from accidents caused by running red lights was only 28 last year.

If the law is not to be enforced, it's better to have no traffic lights at all. If there were no lights, at least people would look carefully in both directions before proceeding across an intersection. Placing a false confidence in a green light for the right-of-way can only make motorists more vulnerable. It's high time for the city to get tough on red-light violators. If the word gets out that insurance and even driving privileges stand to be revoked for repeated red-light violators, this dangerous practice will be substantially cut.

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