You can run (a red light), but you can’t hide (from the law).
In 1899, the first speeding citation ever handed down in the United States was given to a New York City taxicab operator driving at a breakneck speed of 12 miles per hour. With top speeds that low, car accidents were significantly less dangerous than they are today. Intersections at the time were more laissez-faire, with drivers expected to keep their wits about them to avoid a collision.
Presently, however, speed limits don’t max out before one’s speedometer even hits double digits. If intersections were still the same unregulated free-for-alls that they used to be, we would see countless vehicle fatalities on a daily basis. We now have red lights and stop signs to protect us from deadly mayhem. Unfortunately, not everyone abides by these life-saving inventions.
While every state is home to drivers who have run red lights and stop signs, some of these states see more than their fair share of offenders. These infractions are not only dangerous but also costly, as they can lead to medical bills, property damage, and increased insurance premiums. The burden of elevated car insurance costs can be taxing, which is why it is important for drivers with these infractions to compare car insurance quotes from the best car insurance companies before purchasing a policy.
With these risks in mind, the research team at Insurify, an online auto insurance quotes comparison platform, got to the bottom of which states have the most failures to stop nationwide.
To investigate which states have the highest proportion of drivers who have run red lights and/or stop signs, the data scientists at Insurify, an auto insurance quotes comparison website, analyzed their database of over 1.6 million car insurance applications. When car owners apply for insurance, they provide personal, driver history, and vehicle information in order to receive policy quotes. Contained within this driver history information are any failure-to-stop infractions from the past seven years. The research team used this data to determine the states with the largest share of drivers who have failed to stop at a red light or stop sign at some point within the last seven years. Statistics on statewide red light camera usage and motor vehicle crash fatality rates by state are reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Coming in at number 10 on this list, California is living up to its status as the namesake of the “California stop.” Also known as a rolling stop, this infraction occurs when a driver fails to bring their vehicle to a complete stop at a stop sign, but instead only slows, rolling through the sign at under five miles per hour before regaining speed. It doesn’t appear that this eponym was unwarranted, as Californian drivers fail to stop at a rate that is nearly 30 percent higher than the national average.
Illinois is a prime example of the trend identified above—while it has one of the highest rates of motorists running red lights and stop signs in the country, it also has one of the lowest rates of traffic fatalities nationwide. With a single-digit motor vehicle-related death rate for a population of 100,000, Illinois’ rate of driving fatalities are a full 25 percent lower than the United States average. As the tenth most urbanized state in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, it is perhaps unsurprising that Illinois car owners encounter many stop signs and red lights to potentially run, but that this urbanization also helps prevent their vehicles from reaching speeds where collisions become fatal.
Like Texas, Iowa’s state legislature also proposed legislation aiming to ban the use of red light cameras earlier this year. Unlike the Lone Star State, however, this bill failed to clear the House of Representatives, which wished to further regulate the devices instead of eliminating them altogether. The aftermath of these controversial red light camera bills provides a unique opportunity to compare what happens in one state where the devices are kept with one where they were ultimately banned. In the meantime, Iowa drivers can still expect to see cameras vigilantly keeping watch at intersections across the state.
Florida, often maligned as one of the more chaotic states in the media (see any Google search result for “Florida Man”), does nothing to shirk this reputation in the case of failures to stop. With nearly three percent of drivers having reported running a red light or stop sign, the state has a failure to stop rate that easily overshadows its nearest neighbors. Florida drivers run red lights and stop lights at a rate 17 percent higher than Georgia motorists and a full 76 percent greater than Alabama car owners.
Oregon drivers are among the worst in the country for running red lights and stop signs, and they can expect hefty fines for doing so. With an average ticket cost around $300, Beaver State drivers face one of the steepest penalties for failure to stop of any state on this list.
Virginia is our first state to crack the top five for a high share of drivers failing to stop at intersections. Moreover, it also faces one of the lower rates of traffic-related deaths in the nation, as it falls within the bottom 15 states for motor vehicle fatalities. Given that Virginia has a higher than average degree of urbanization for the United States, this data once again supports the hypothesis that states with more city driving have both more stop signs and red lights that a driver may run, and have slower moving vehicles that are less deadly when they collide.
Wyoming is within the top four states in the U.S. for a high share of car owners running red lights and stop signs. However, it is also the first state of our top 10 ranking to not implement the use of red light cameras. This raises the question of whether or not the state would have fewer drivers illegally running through intersections if communities installed red light cameras.
Breaking into the top three is Hawaii. According to a road signs sales company, MyParkingSign, Hawaii has the most stop signs per mile of road in America by a wide margin. This is due in part to the fact that Hawaii is composed of primarily smaller roadways and has few major highways in comparison to other states. This dense distribution of stop signs predictably drives up the frequency of drivers running them. It may also contribute to the lack of red light cameras in the state if the majority of intersections are marked with stop signs instead.
New York is a state of extremes. Not only does it have the second highest share of drivers who have failure-to-stop violations in the country, but it also has the lowest traffic fatality rate of all 50 states. With an average of only 5 driving-related deaths per 100,000 people annually, the Empire State’s rate of motor vehicle fatalities is 56 percent lower than that of the nation as a whole.
The state with the highest share of drivers that have run red lights and stop signs is Delaware. The state’s share of drivers with a failure to stop infraction is over 1.5 times as high as that of the number 10 state on this list, California, and over twice that of the United States as a whole. In contrast to many other states, the penalty for such charges in Delaware is fairly variable, ranging from a fine of $75 to $230.
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