New legislation could do just that. Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs, of Gilbert, is the supporter of SB1313.
He said that the proposal would expand Arizona intersections to include crosswalks, which means pavement sensors that trigger red light cameras would be moved back and potentially make things less confusing for motorists. Under current law, if someone passes through a cross walk and into an intersection as a light turns red they're supposed to get a ticket. However, under the new proposal, the trigger point will be further back.
"If you say it's at the crosswalk line or that white line, everybody knows," Biggs said. "It becomes a bright line rule and that makes it easier to understand. I think that translates to more safety."
"What this bill will do is it will make our intersections safer for Arizona drivers," said Shawn Dow with CameraFraud.com. Supporters and opponents of photo enforcement disagree on the idea of adding the area of crosswalks and stop lights to the definition of an intersection. "What the camera companies are doing is shortening the yellow light times and making the intersections more dangerous. This will counter that a little bit," Dow said. According to Dow, extending the intersection would give drivers more time and make it harder to get a ticket. The Phoenix Police Department say it only ups the danger.
"We just don't see this bill as going to add to traffic safety," said Sgt. Tommy Thompson of the Phoenix Police Department. "What that means is you've extended that intersection as much as 20 to 30 feet, which means those drivers who are aggressive, who are in a hurry, want to go ahead and have a propensity to run red lights will now have 20 to 30 feet more," Thompson said.
But could it keep you out of a ticket or make you more susceptible to a crash? The debate continues.
According to a 2009 DOT report, in 2008, 4,378 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States and there were a whopping 69,000 pedestrians injured in traffic crashes. With these kind of numbers, it should be unanimously decided that including crosswalks as a vehicle intersection where vehicles can stop on and not get ticketed will only increase dangers.
According to many insurance studies, Arizonans die from crashes caused by drivers who speed through red lights, at a rate about double the national average. Similar studies have discovered that nearly 40% of drivers admit to running red lights at least once in a while. The actual number is undoubtedly higher.
- Ninety-seven percent of drivers feel that other drivers running red-lights are a major safety threat (Source: National Survey of Speeding and Other Unsafe Driver Actions, Vol. 2: Findings)
- One in three people claim they personally know someone injured or killed in a red-light running crash (Source: Old Dominion University)
Each year more than 800 people die and an estimated 200,000-plus are injured in crashes that involve red light running Nationwide.
This, to me, seems like a very bad idea. The crosswalk is a bright line already---stop for a yellow/red light before you get there. It is an objective marker to delineate where you should be and when, based upon the color of the light. It suggests that motorists should not encroach into the crosswalk area, where people are walking, when the light turns colors that are signaling people to stop. Now, they want to take away that buffer zone which exists for pedestrian safety??
With these alarming statistics, it only makes sense to keep our roads safer and put a harsher penalty on those who run red-lights. As an Auto Accident Lawyer, there should be no reason to extend an intersection when it only gives drivers more of a chance to run a red-light.