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Many Drivers Say They Run Red Lights

October 5, 1999

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) _ Virtually all American drivers agree that running red lights is dangerous _ but more than half say they’ve done it, according to a new study.

Drivers who run red lights are involved in 89,000 crashes a year, causing 82,000 injuries and nearly 1,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Transportation Department.

Researchers at Old Dominion University found that 55.8 percent of the licensed drivers they questioned admitted running red lights, even though 98 percent acknowledge that it’s hazardous.

``There are enough red light runners out there that when you come up to an intersection and you stop, your first worry should be what’s coming the other way,″ said the chief researcher, psychology professor Bryan Porter. ``I tell you, if you do this research long enough, you will get frightened.″

Porter said he expected to find frustration and road rage to be the primary causes of running red lights. Instead, only 15.8 percent of the people surveyed cited those reasons, while 47.8 percent said they ran red lights simply because they were in a hurry.

``Everybody does it, all demographics, all types of people,″ Porter said Monday. ``We’ve all run red lights.″

The telephone survey of 880 drivers ages 18 and older was conducted from June to August. It had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Police officers said the findings reflect what they’ve seen.

``It’s a constant problem,″ said Mark Summerell, a sergeant in special operations in charge of traffic in Virginia Beach. ``They’re thinking about getting from point A to point B, forgetting about point B in between. It’s such a fast-paced world we’re living in now.″

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