The number of people killed by drivers running red lights has hit a 10-year high, and AAA is urging drivers and pedestrians to use caution at traffic signals.
In 2017, the latest figures available, 939 people were killed by vehicles blowing through red lights, according to a AAA study of government crash data.
It's the highest death toll since 2008 and 28% higher than in 2012. AAA says two people are killed every day in the U.S. by drivers who don't stop for the signals.
"Drivers who decide to run a red light when they could have stopped safely are making a reckless choice that puts other road users in danger," David Yang, executive director of AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety, said Thursday.
AAA isn't sure why the numbers are on the rise or why they have increased at a far higher rate than overall U.S. roadway deaths. Since 2012 the overall number of highway fatalities rose 10%, far short of the 28% increase in red-light running deaths.
There are more people driving more miles since the Great Recession, but that doesn't explain why red-light deaths are increasing at a faster rate, said Brian Tefft, senior researcher for the AAA Foundation. He said he suspects distracted driving played a role, as did traffic lights that weren't timed optimally, perhaps with a yellow caution cycle that's too short.
"I wish we had a better answer than we do," he said, adding that the answer was beyond the scope of the data in the study of fatal crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.