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Running red light deaths set decade record

Violating traffic signals can be fatal. A recently-released study, in fact, revealed that car accident and other traffic fatality deaths attributed to running red lights set a 10-year record in 2017.

The number of these deaths reached 939 in 2017, the latest years these figures were available, according to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study. This was a 31 percent increase from the low of 715 reported in 2009 and was the fifth consecutive year of increase.

At least two people were killed each day from motorists driving through red lights. The AAA study, citing figures going back to 2008, covered anyone who was killed in these accidents including the drivers, passengers, occupants of other vehicles or pedestrians.

Running red lights is especially dangerous, however, for people who were not occupants of the offender's vehicle. Over half of the fatalities in these accidents were people that the offenders hit and not the offenders or their passengers.

Even more distressing, many motorists admitted to disregarding traffic signals occasionally. Almost one in three drivers said they drove through a red light in the previous month, according to the AAA.

The study did not cite reasons for this increase. AAA experts, however, suggested some causes.

First, Americans are driving more. Motorists drove five percent more miles during the period covered by the AAA study.

Distracted driving was another possible cause. The growing popularity of smartphones since 2007 and vehicle infotainment systems may have played a role in these accidents. Experts also blame distracted driving for the overall 13 percent increase in traffic deaths from its all time low of 32,744 in 2014 to 37,133 in 2017.

Experts recommended installing cameras at intersections where there has been a problem. More roundabouts would also increase safety because these make drivers go at lower speeds than intersections with traffic signals. Vehicle-to-red-light communication systems could help but may be too expensive for governments who are dealing with budget problems.

Victims of a car accident caused by another driver's negligence or illegal driving, or their families, may be entitled to compensation. An attorney can help them seek this through the filing of a lawsuit.

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