Why We Run Red Lights

Red Lights Mean Stop

If drivers are speeding, they are more likely to have trouble stopping for red lights. Slippery roads also mean it takes more time to stop so drive to the conditions. When drivers are on the phone, texting, or otherwise distracted, they may run red lights or fail to stop before turning right. And, of course, there are people who think the safety rules do not apply to them. Whatever the reason, failing to stop at red lights is costly in terms of injuries and fatalities.

Who Gets Hurt

In 2018, there were 995 collisions caused by failing to observe the traffic signal. Signal-light violations rank in the top three collision causes for severity of injury and likelihood of fatalities. In 2018, these collisions caused 192 injuries and/or fatalities. Pedestrians are most at risk.

From 2011-2015, there were 1,026 pedestrian collisions at intersections. This is 66% of all pedestrian collisions. Of these:

  • Pedestrians had the right-of-way in 845 collisions. In other words, drivers were at-fault 82% of the time
  • For the 845 driver-at-fault collisions, 384 (45%) vehicles were going straight ahead; 287 (34%) were turning left; 163 (19%) were turning right

Rules Around Red Lights

  • Vehicles must come to a complete stop before the stop line or crosswalk
  • If there is no stop line or crosswalk, drivers must stop before the intersection
  • Vehicles must remain stopped at the red light until it turns green

Right Turns on Red Lights

  • Unless a sign prohibits the turn, a driver may turn right at a red light, but only after stopping completely
  • No matter how slowly, rolling through a red light (or past a stop sign) is a traffic violation
  • Watch for pedestrians when turning

Enforcing Red Light Violations

Intersection safety devices (ISD), known as red-light cameras, detect speeding and failure to stop on red. Edmonton Police Service also enforces red-light violations.

Amber Lights

A yellow light means that traffic facing the light is “warned” that a red light will soon follow. Alberta Transportation explains yellow (or amber) lights mean drivers must stop their vehicle before the stop line or crosswalk, unless a point has been reached at the intersection where stopping cannot be done safely. The yellow light does not mean to step on the gas to try and beat the light.

Traffic Safety Act - Rules of the Road

Traffic Safety Act