Readers Want More Action Taken Against Those Who Run Red Lights

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 19, 2004
The in basket: I hear from readers from time to time who feel seriously endangered by people who run red lights.

Michael Hill and Julie Jones have described it in a similar fashion in recent e-mails.

Julie wrote, “One doesn’t dare take off at a green light anymore. It seems there are always two or three people still coming through an intersection LONG after THEIR light would have turned red.”

Michael says all the lights on Highway 303 out to Fairgrounds Road “are ‘hot spots’ for those in too much of a hurry to stop. I have adopted a five-second count before I pull out on my green signal in fear of some idiot killing my family.”


ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 19, 2004
The in basket: I hear from readers from time to time who feel seriously endangered by people who run red lights.

Michael Hill and Julie Jones have described it in a similar fashion in recent e-mails.

Julie wrote, “One doesn’t dare take off at a green light anymore. It seems there are always two or three people still coming through an intersection LONG after THEIR light would have turned red.”

Michael says all the lights on Highway 303 out to Fairgrounds Road “are ‘hot spots’ for those in too much of a hurry to stop. I have adopted a five-second count before I pull out on my green signal in fear of some idiot killing my family.”

Shirley Thomas and Erik Anderson have said much the same in previous years.

Shirley said, “I know people who count to three before they go. I think these red light runners anticipate you’re going to wait for them.”

All four wondered why the police don’t ticket the offenders.

The out basket: They do, but it’s hard for an officer to get a vantage point to see exactly when a light turns red, unless he’s behind the violator.

Then the officer has to run the light himself to make the stop.

Bremerton police are using bright blue “tattletale” lights at several intersections to make it easier for an officer to the side to know when a light he can’t see turns red.

More of the lights are to be installed.

But that said, this complaint mystifies me. I just don’t see the dangerous activities the others describe.

Oh, I see people run red lights all the time — while making left and right turns. This is somewhat dangerous for pedestrians but it seems more of a curiosity and minor delay than a hazard to anyone in a stopped car.

Nor do people who enter an intersection on green but don’t get out before the light turns red worry me.

Perhaps those it does worry don’t know that nearly all modern stop signals have a one-second “all-red” phase before any light turns green. It provides ample time for anyone in an intersection when the light turns red to clear it before any cross-traffic gets a green.

What I almost never see is a driver pass through an intersection in front of me at or above the speed limit one to four seconds after I get a green light.

That’s the kind of violation that will kill people. If it happens around here regularly, tell me where.

I don’t see it where I drive, nor when I sat at Highway 303 signals and watched.

5 thoughts on “Readers Want More Action Taken Against Those Who Run Red Lights

  1. Mr. Baker – one must remember to remove the blinders and open thier eyes when driving……
    Is running red lights in our county dangerous??..Yes..Case in point.. I know two individuals at work who were involved in accidents in Kitsap County involving drivers who ran red lights. In the first, a teen age girl was killed when she ran a red light and was hit in the driver’s door (the driver who hit her spent months in the hospital recovering)…the second in West Bremerton, when not one – but two (2) drivers ran a red light…. my friend hit the second car, resulting in injuries to both drivers. I invite you to come to Port Orchard and spend time driving up and down Mile Hill. You will see drivers running red lights all the time.
    And for the record…I am in favor of the “Red Light” cameras that are installed at intersections to catch those who choose to run red lights…I saw them in action in Florida, and they do work on cutting down on the amount of drivers who run red lights, endangering not only Your life, Your family’s, but mine as well.

  2. I’m not saying the crashes don’t happen and take a terrible toll when they do.

    My quarrel is with those who claim to see routine red light violations that nearly cause crashes.

    After writing the above column, I spent time watching lights that readers said were common locations for dangerous red light violations. I watched on Highway 305 at Bond and at Hostmark, on Highway 303 at McWilliams (twice), Fairgounds/John Carlson and Brownsville Highway and at Silverdale Way and Bucklin Hill Road. I watched 10 complete cycles at each location each time, at busy times of day.

    Except in Silverdale, the worst violation I saw in all those light changes was a car on Highway 305 that crossed Bond Road a second after the light was red during the morning rush. No car on Bond could possibly have gotten into the intersection by then.

    The violations at Silverdale Way and Bucklin Hill Road occurred longer after the light changed, but were at low speeds, and once again, no cross traffic had to brake or even slow down to avoid a collision.

    I didn’t do the same in South Kitsap because I live and work there, on Mile Hill Drive, actually, so am constantly conducting observations there just coming and going. I don’t see any more genuinely dangerous red light violations there than anywhere else.

    I replied to all those who responded to the above column, telling them what I’d found. But I never wrote a followup column about it, not being sure that any good purpose would be served by it.

    The red light cameras were permitted only in Lakewood until 2005, and now can be implemented here, but they are costly and no local jurisdictions seem interested in having them.
    Based on the above observations, I couldn’t advocate their use.

  3. I agree that I haven’t seen too many accidents caused by red light running. But that isn’t because its ok, its because driver’s reaction times aren’t fast enough leaving the red light when it turns green. What I am afraid of is that red light running is a symptom of wider spread disregard of other rules designed to keep us all safe. Speeding definitely causes wrecks. I think red light runners also speed. Distracted drivers cause wrecks. A portion of red light runners are distracted, so they don’t anticipate the upcoming light turning red. Better enforcement of red light running should help these other areas that do cause wrecks with associated property damage, injury or death.

  4. Travis, congratulations on your ten years of service to the community. We moved here from Virginia just over ten years ago, and I’ve recently realized that your column has, unexpectedly, made us feel more intimately aware of people’s real concerns in Kitsap County. Somehow your column connects with us more than articles in The Sun about criminal activity in Bremerton and elsewhere, the great KAPO – environmentalist debate, and other local issues.

    The column has, of course, also been educational; I now understand some of the more arcane traffic laws, thanks to your explanations, and was thankful that SOMEBODY (why couldn’t it have been the county?) explained what all the road construction was about near McCormick Woods, where we live.

    Drive on, and keep in mind that you have more devoted readers than you probably realize.

    Love, Mom (just kidding)

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