Why We Run Red Lights

Red Lights Mean Stop

If drivers are speeding, there is an increase in the likelihood they’ll have trouble stopping for red lights. Slippery roads also mean it takes more time to stop, reinforcing the importance of driving to the road conditions. Distracted drivers who are on their phone, texting, or are otherwise distracted, may run red lights or fail to stop before turning right. There are some drivers who think safe driving rules do not apply to them. Whatever the reason, failing to stop at red lights is dangerous in terms of injuries and fatalities.

Who Gets Hurt

In 2021, there were 840 crashes 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 2021, these crashes caused 207 injuries and/or fatalities. Pedestrians are most at risk.

From 2017-2021, there were 693 pedestrian crashes at intersections. This is 70% of all pedestrian crashes. Of these:

  • Pedestrians had the right-of-way in 590 crashes. In other words, drivers were at-fault 85% of the time
  • For the 590 driver-at-fault crashes, 206 (35%) vehicles were going straight ahead, 239 (41%) were turning left, and 132 (22%) 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
  • Look in both directions before turning to watch for pedestrians

Enforcing Red Light Violations

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

Amber Lights

An amber or 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