D. O. "Spike" Helmick is the retired Commisioner of the California Highway Patrol

Spike Helmick, Retired CHP Commissioner

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Driver education has changed since we were children. Many public schools no longer offer driver education or driver training.

Red light, green light

The results of a survey by the Stop Red light Running partnership revealing that 98 percent of Americans agree that red light running is dangerous, but over half admit deliberately running red lights because they are in a hurry.

The research provided new evidence that red light runners do not conform to a set demographic - the dangerous practice reaches across drivers of all ages, economic groups and gender. The perpetrators are everyday people; professionals, blue-collar workers, unemployed, homemakers, parents and young adults.

According to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics, drivers who run red lights are involved in 89,000 crashes a year, inflicting more than 80,000 injuries and nearly 1,000 deaths.

“These numbers remind me of the state of affairs some years ago with drunk driving, where a lot of otherwise decent people knew better, but did it anyway because they didn’t realize how truly perilous it was,” said ATS Executive Director Harry Teter. “So the message is clear - we’ve got to do a better job of making people aware that running red lights simply is not acceptable.”

Nearly half of the respondents (47.8 percent) admitted to being prompted to run red lights by nothing more complicated than being in a hurry.

“Red light running is not only rude, it’s life threatening,” said Susan Cischke, Daimler Chrysler vice president for vehicle safety and regulatory affairs. “It has the same effect as driving under the influence in terms of probability of serious injury and death.”

The survey focused on what drivers reported to be their red light running behaviors, as opposed to what they believed about red light running. overall, 55.8 percent of the respondents admit running red lights. Those in lower technology (68.3 percent) and blue collar jobs (59.7 percent) and non parents (65 percent) reported significantly more red light running than respondents in other categories.

Professionals (59.7 percent) and homemakers (54.8 percent) also rank high. Parents with children less than 20 years old (65.6 percent) are likely to run red lights more than parents of older children (40.8 percent). Respondents with bachelors and post-graduate degrees rank at 58.4 percent and 56 percent respectively.

The survey also found that a majority of drivers (80.5 percent) were more frustrated with discourtesy on the roads than they were with any other traffic problem, including congestion.

The poll was conducted by the Social Science Research Center at old Dominion University. It queried 880 licensed drivers ages 18 and older on behalf of the Stop Red Light Running program.

Law Enforcement Sites

The Official CHP WebSite

The CHP 11-99 Foundation was created to provide benefits to California Highway Patrol employees and their families

The California Association of Highway Patrolmen (CAHP) is a labor association whose primary purpose is to work for the benefit of all California Highway Patrol officers.

Other Sites

Mothers Against Drunk Driving