A minority of motorist need more discipline when it comes to traffic lights says AA

The AA is calling for tighter discipline among a minority of motorists who have the bad habit of taking a risk at traffic lights.  The latest AA Motor Insurance Poll shows that 7.6% of drivers in Ireland break red lights at least occasionally.

Only a quarter of the 15,600 motorists polled by AA Motor Insurance said they have never broken a red light and just 49.3% said they slow down when approaching an amber light.  A further 2.2% admitted to habitually putting their foot down to squeeze through on amber, ignoring the rules of the road.  “Most motorists in Ireland behave well on the road, but there is a reckless minority.” Says John Farrell, Director of Insurance AA Ireland.

“While we appreciate that getting caught at the lights can be a real pain, and the temptation is there when the way appears clear, it’s just not worth the potential consequences,” says John Farrell, Director of Insurance AA Ireland.

The results of the AA Motor Insurance poll also indicate that male drivers are more likely than females to intentionally break a red light every now and again.  8.9% of male motorists compared with 5.7% of females admitted to the traffic violation.

In light of these findings, John Farrell, Director of Insurance, AA Ireland reminds motorists “Not only is running a red light highly dangerous, massively increasing your risk of a collision, it’s also a penalty point offence which may  affect future discounts on your motor insurance premiums.”

According to the latest available figures, during 2009 in the region of 280,000 penalty points were issued to motorists caught running a red light.[1] Motorists caught breaking a red light can also expect to receive an €80 fine reminds the AA.

A higher percentage of motorists in Louth than in any other county admitted to knowingly breaking a red light at least occasionally.  1 in 10 Louth respondents admitted to ignoring red lights from time to time, while a further 0.3% said they did so regularly.  Following this, the AA Motor Insurance Poll identified drivers in counties Leitrim and Dublin as some of the worst culprits for running red lights.

The AA is inviting motorists via their blog, http://blog.aaireland.ie/ to share their views on whether or not they believe red light traffic cameras should be introduced as a means of detecting traffic light infringements at some of the country’s most dangerous junctions.  The AA also reminds motorists of the Rules of the Road when it comes to traffic lights.

The Rules of the Road regarding traffic lights:

  1. A red light means STOP.  If the traffic lights is red as you approach it you must not go beyond the accompanying stop line.
  2. When the light is green, you may proceed but only with caution.
  3. When the light is amber you cannot go beyond the traffic light stop line or light itself in the absence of a line. ONLY if you are so close to the line/traffic light when the light in question turns amber that it would be unsafe to bring your vehicle to a stop can you continue through an amber light.
  4. A green filter light (arrow) means you are permitted to follow the direction of the arrow provided it is safe and clear to do so.
  5. If turning right at traffic lights where there is a right facing arrow, you can drive into the junction when the traffic lights turn green, making sure not to obstruct the flow of oncoming traffic. When it is safe to do so, complete your right hand turn. You are not obliged to wait for the green filter arrow to appear provided you get a safe opportunity to turn right before it appears.
  6. When you see a flashing, left pointing amber arrow leading into a junction you may proceed to the left provided you give way to traffic already driving through the junction on the road you are entering.

Ends

Notes to the editor;

  1. Rules of the Road Specific to traffic lights can be obtained at www.rulesoftheroad.ie/rules-for-driving/traffic-lights-and-signals/traffic-lights.html

Fig. 1 Frequency with which motorists break red lights and overview of behaviors around amber lights (Based on 15,648 responses):

I have never broken a fully operational red light 25.3%
I have broken a red light as the traffic lights weren’t working 32.9%
I will break a red light if there is not other traffic on the road 3.6%
I occasionally break red lights 7.3%
I regularly break red lights 0.3%
I sometimes speed up when I see an amber light to make sure I get through 45.9%
I consistently speed up when I see an amber light to make sure I get through 2.2%
I slow down when I see an amber light 49.3%

Fig. 2 Frequency with which FEMALE motorists break red lights and overview of behaviors around amber lights (Based on 6,330 responses):

I have never broken a red light 26.8%
I have broken a red light as the traffic lights weren’t working 27.9%
I will break a red light if there is not other traffic on the road 1.8%
I occasionally break red lights 5.7%
I regularly break red lights 0.0%
I sometimes speed up when I see an amber light to make sure I get through 46.8%
I consistently speed up when I see an amber light to make sure I get through 1.6%
I slow down when I see an amber light 47.8%

Fig. 3 Frequency with which MALE motorists break red lights and overview of behaviors around amber lights (Based on 8,601 responses):

I have never broken a red light 23.9%
I have broken a red light as the traffic lights weren’t working 37.2%
I will break a red light if there is not other traffic on the road 4.9%
I occasionally break red lights 8.5%
I regularly break red lights 0.4%
I sometimes speed up when I see an amber light to make sure I get through 45.8%
I consistently speed up when I see an amber light to make sure I get through 2.6%
I slow down when I see an amber light 50.6%

Fig. 4 County by county split of drivers who are in regular or occasional habit of breaking red lights.

County Occasionally Regularly
Carlow ( 153 responses) 3.9% 0.0%
Cavan ( 165 responses) 3.0% 0.0%
Clare ( 299 responses) 5.4% 0.3%
Cork ( 1,688 responses) 7.4% 0.2%
Donegal (227 responses) 4.8% 0.0%
Dublin ( 5672 responses) 8.3% 0.3%
Galway ( 678 responses) 7.6% 0.1%
Kerry ( 257 responses) 3.5% 0.4%
Kildare ( 1012 responses) 7.7% 0.1%
Kilkenny (200 responses) 4.5% 0.0%
Laois (186 responses) 2.7% 0.5%
Leitrim (81 responses) 9.9% 0.0%
Limerick (519 responses) 7.6% 0.0%
Longford ( 88 responses) 4.5% 0.0%
Louth (330 responses) 10.0% 0.3%
Mayo (278  responses) 4.0% 0.4%
Meath (706  responses) 4.0% 0.4%
Monaghan (80  responses) 3.8% 0.0%
Offaly (150 responses) 4.7% 0.0%
Roscommon ( 154 responses) 3.9% 1.3%
Sligo (159  responses) 7.5% 0.0%
Tipperary (340 responses) 5.7% 0.3%
Waterford ( 329  responses) 7.3% 0.0%
Westmeath ( 219 responses) 5.0% 0.0%
Wexford (425  responses) 4.8% 0.5%
Wicklow ( 675 responses) 7.4% 0.0%


[1] Data sourced from the Road Safety Authority, www.rsa.ie/en/RSA/Road-Safety/Our-Research/Penalty-Point-Statistics/

10 comments

  1. In relation to the breaking of red lights, the worst place I have seen this happen is when coming out of the Phoenix Park every morning. Traffic coming from Cunningham Road heading towards the quays never stops when the lights turn red. This is not just one or two cars. Every time the lights have turned red, five or six cars still proceed through ignoring the red light and the yellow grid.

  2. hello the same rule should apply for our guards who reguralrly break trafiic lights when they are not on calls around dublin i have witnessed it myself in o connell street on particular day i crossed at a set of pedrestrians ligths and this garda came up towards red light with no siren and no lights on and i was starting across but i had to jump back out of way.i got registration of car and floowed car around corner to see where it was going so it had stopped down of o connell street.so i waited for driver to come back and spoke to him about his wreckless driving and got his badge number and reported him.

  3. I think that the scale of the problem of breaking red lights is far worse that shown here. Interviwing people is going to give a better than real picture. I work in Limerick city and the scale of breaking red lights is at a critical stage

  4. “While we appreciate that getting caught at the lights can be a real pain …” – what kind of a statement is that from an insurance director?

    Anyone with their eyes open can see that the problem with breaking red lights is far bigger than mentioned in the blog entry and certainly not just applying to a ‘minority of motorists’.

    I see it on a daily basis in Dublin. And everyone does it. From the mother bringing the children to school to the truck driver with his fully loaded truck. From the cyclists (1 in 10 might stop) to the white van driver. From the elderly driver cruising along to the young learner driver speeding along. From the bus driver with a fully occupied bus to the off-duty garda car.

    It’s an accepted method of driving. No bad consience, just part of the daily routine.

    And it won’t stop. It will get worse until it is properly policed (no chance there) or until some very serious accidents happen.

    People will get killed and maimed first by this ‘minority’.

  5. There are new traffic lights in Balbriggan and the amount of people who drive through the red light is unbelievable. I am sorry to say but they are mostly foreign people doing it – call me racist but its a fact. If you sit at the lovely steps at the Bracken court you will see this happen time and time again. The Gardai should be sitting their in plain clothes or there should be cameras there. Someone is going to be killed at the new lights at the bracken court in balbriggan town. I see it time and time again every single day.

  6. Just saw your comment about the lights at the bracken court in Balbriggan and I agree 1 million per cent on all points. Well said that woman!

  7. The junction at the bottom of Donnybrook Hill in Douglas, Cork is just a joke .. the cars race down the hill, and go straight through the lights ..oh, thats after overtaking the bus which is taking on passengers and the bus stop which is approx 20m from the lights .. be easy pickings for someone in plain clothes just to sit in the bus stop and take the plate numbers …

    As for the driving and using mobile phones, Cork drivers MUST have a dispensation or something as if you sat at the bus stop … anywhere, just about every 2nd driver is on their mobile phone. I had a lad behind my heading up Forge Hill on Monday evening, traffic was slow, but he was on his phone having a great conversation – it was a gorgeous evening – I had my window down as did he .. he was on the mobile right up to the point where we reached the lights and heading onto the airport road … he knows its wrong, as he hid the phone as a Gardai Mobile car unit passed .. why do drivers who do this think that the rest of us who do obey the law, think its ok, why aren’t they hiding from us too?

  8. Whilst I don’t condone breaking red lights, I think this country is infested with traffic lights.
    They a practically every hundred meters on some roads, and are rarely synchronised.
    Local councils just seem to stick needless sets of traffic lights everywhere in this country, where mini roundabouts would suffice..
    There are six sets of traffic lights in the space of three of four hundred meters on a road near where I live, causing major frustration to locals.These were only installed in the past couple of years, and there was never a traffic problem before.
    Maybe if we didn’t have pointless and unsynchronised sets of traffic lights on every corner people might obey them more frequently.

  9. Makes me smile…………does anyone know how many sets of traffic light there are in Leitrim ?….Not enough to have a lot of people running a red light…One set of traffic lights …..

  10. ridiculous, Everybody knows women are better liars than men. I think the amount of accidents recorded at red lights would be interesting and what demographic are involved.

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