August 5 is International Traffic Light Day. As frustrating as they may be, especially when you only see red lights, they are extremely important for the safety of drivers and pedestrians. Following the implementation of traffic lights on August 5, 1914, in Cleveland, Ohio, motor vehicle fatality rates in the U.S. declined by almost 50 percent by 1930. Traffic signals are essential for a smooth and orderly flow of traffic and interrupt heavy flows of traffic to allow pedestrians to safely move across the road. They assign the right of way and aid in avoiding overcrowding, speeding, and motor vehicle accidents—when followed.
Failing to follow the rules of a traffic light can result in financial repercussions, legal action, dangerous conditions for other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, and possible fatalities. Running a red light is considered aggressive driving regarding the law. In 2015, the average number of deaths because of traffic light violations was 60. To avoid the preventable and possibly fatal consequences of traffic light violations, many states have implemented features to deter people from running red lights. Many traffic lights have cameras installed that can detect the license plate and a visual of the driver. If you are caught on camera committing a traffic light violation, you will be ticketed. Some states have also increased the time of yellow lights to prevent the slamming of brakes and rear-end accidents. This increase is to ensure that the driver has an appropriate amount of time to acknowledge the light, slow down, stop, and observe the traffic around them.
There are also things you can do to decrease and prevent traffic light violations. Most importantly, a yellow light is a warning that a red light is going to appear. Its purpose is to give drivers time to slow down, not speed up. Driving at an appropriate speed can give you enough time to see the yellow light and slow down appropriately. Even if you follow all the rules of the road, it is important to look out for people who may not. When a traffic light turns green, it can be helpful to take a few seconds and make sure the intersection is clear before continuing. Understanding the importance of traffic lights can save lives.