Red light special

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Princeton Drake
  • 99th Air Base Wing Safety Office
So there I was in my early 90s sedan. I was sitting at the red light directly outside of the base driving towards West Craig to start my commute home after a long day of work.  The very moment the light turned green, I noticed oncoming traffic didn't stop. I looked up and I clearly saw that my light was green; meaning their light has to be red, right? So I hesitated and at that moment I counted five tractor-trailers proceeding toward the intersection at high speeds. Collision adverted!

An important thing to take away from this brief story is when you are at a traffic light and it turns green, that doesn't mean you should immediately take off. I would recommend that everyone survey the intersection for five seconds before proceeding. The truck drivers thought they were catching the yellow light, however, they were actually running a red light. Just thinking about the size of the tractor-trailers and the speed they were traveling, it could have been fatal. Thankfully my situational awareness kicked in and I paused for a few seconds until it was safe to enter the intersection.

Over the last five years, 79 percent of intersection-related fatalities and injuries occurred in Clark County due to red light runners. Within this time frame, in the state of Nevada, there have been more than 3,100 injured and over 500 lives lost -- many being pedestrians. As of early February 2015, Las Vegas has experienced 11 pedestrian fatalities just this year.

Statistics show that one-in-five drivers admit to running a red light within the last 10 intersections. While not all intersection incidents are due to red-light-running, people run red lights for the same reason they perform other unsafe driving habits at intersections. Some examples include: distraction, inattention, speeding and aggressive-driving. Too often, the traffic signal's yellow light has come to symbolize "hurry up" instead of "prepare to stop."

Think about it, are you performing any of these behaviors, is this you?

Las Vegas can be known as the city that never sleeps, and we must account for other drivers on our highways as well as ourselves. It seems like everyone is always in a rush to get somewhere or nowhere, even if it's just to the next light one-tenth of a mile ahead. Occasionally, drivers we share the roadways with could be preoccupied -- meaning they have something else on their mind other than safe driving. We should all strive to be defensive drivers and maintain situational awareness while traveling on and off base.

Before proceeding through a red light, pause. Wait a few seconds. Give the unpredictable a chance to be predicted. Drive carefully. We need everyone to make it home safely and back to work to carry on the mission we volunteered for.

Current statistics and information about traffic and highway safety can be found at