Each year in the United States, more than one million motor vehicle collisions occur at traffic signals, half of these result in serious injury and several thousand result in fatalities. Recent statistics have shown that throughout the city the numbers of violent crimes are down, however the number of motor vehicle related traumas continue to rise. Victims of motor vehicle crashes and pedestrians struck by autos are being treated in Emergency Departments at alarming rates. F.D.N.Y./E.M.S. data for January 1,1998 through June 30,1998 report ambulances responding to 175 calls of pedestrians struck in the 104 pct. alone. (Citywide there were 11,310 cases reported).
Research shows that running red lights and other traffic control devices such as stop or yield signs are the largest causes of urban crashes, leading to loss of lives, serious injuries and approximately one billion dollars annually in medical costs, lost work time and property damage.
The American Trauma Society and Federal Highway Administration have launched a campaign aptly titled “ RED LIGHT RUNNING”. The objective of the campaign is to reduce the number and severity of traffic crashes by increasing awareness of the hazards associated with the non-compliance of traffic signals.
Elmhurst Hospital Center has recently joined this campaign. Working with the campaign the hospital has taken the initiative to promote vehicle and pedestrian safety.
Another study released in June 1997 by the New York City Department of Transportation showed that based on their 1995 – 1996 figures there have been more fatal car accidents in Queens than in any other borough. There has also been an increase in the number of senior citizens (over age 60) who were fatally injured, nearly one – third of all Queens traffic deaths involved senior citizens.
The message that needs to be sent is “Stop Running Red Lights!” Today’s drivers are stressed by the fast pace of their schedules , coping with tension caused by traffic congestion and in some cases blatant disrespect for the law and as a result make up their own driving rules to conform to their needs without giving thought to the possible
The elevated number of motor vehicle accidents sends a resounding message of the need for change. We as drivers must be accountable for our actions to insure everyone’s safety and there is a need in the community for stronger law enforcement techniques.