Traffic laws require drivers to stop at intersections when a traffic light is red. Failure to do so can lead to collisions with other cars or injuries to pedestrians who are crossing the road legally. In 2017, Tennessee had 13 pedestrian deaths due to drivers running red lights. This number decreased from the previous year (19), but it contributes to a grand total of 125 pedestrian deaths since 2008. According to a report from AAA Newsroom, there were 939 total fatalities in 2017 that occurred because drivers ran red lights; victims included pedestrians, cyclists, and passengers riding in cars with at-fault drivers. The most common reasons for drivers' failure to obey traffic lights were distracted driving, drunk driving, and reckless driving (running a red light).
Punishments for Running a Red Light in Tennessee
Tennessee law states that every motor vehicle must stop before entering an intersection in which a traffic light is red. This is for the safety of motorists traveling in a different direction, as well as pedestrians who are walking in a crosswalk.
Failing to stop at a red light is punishable as a Class C misdemeanor, and the driver will have to pay a $50 fine. This is the punishment for simply running the light. If an accident occurs during the incident, the at-fault driver can face heavier penalties, such as:
The at-fault driver may be required to pay compensation for injuries and/or property damage inflicted in a collision.
The at-fault driver could be charged with vehicular homicide. This is a Class B felony that can result in a prison term of 8 to 30 years.
The at-fault driver may face a wrongful death claim and be required to pay compensation to the family of a deceased victim.
While it is tempting to take the chance and speed through an intersection when a traffic light is yellow, drivers should slow down as opposed to speeding up. This may seem like a simple act, but recklessly speeding through an intersection can lead to serious consequences for the driver, any other occupants of their vehicles, other drivers, or pedestrians.
Drivers who run a red light put their own lives in danger, because if they see pedestrians crossing the road, they may swerve to avoid a collision and end up crashing into another vehicle or running off the road. Running a red light when pedestrians are present is likely to be seen as purposefully putting someone's life in danger, which can lead to the at-fault driver being charged with reckless driving.
Proceeding Through Intersections Safely
To ensure everyone stays safe at intersections, drivers should always obey traffic lights. If a light is green, a driver may continue through the intersection carefully. If it is yellow, drivers must slow down to prepare for the red light.
Pedestrians should stay on sidewalks until the traffic signal illuminates to tell them it is safe to cross the street. While crossing, pedestrians should stay alert for any cars that do not stop for the light.
Contact a Jacksboro, TN Personal Injury Lawyer
The physical injuries that result from being struck by a motor vehicle can cause very serious harm. If you are the victim of a pedestrian accident, you may face years of costly medical expenses that you did not deserve. If you have been struck by a driver who failed to stop at a red light, you should consult with an experienced attorney from the Law Offices of William F. Evans in order to seek damages for your injuries. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and the pain and suffering you have experienced. To schedule a free consultation with one of our Campbell County pedestrian accident attorneys, call our office today at 423-449-7980.