More than 900 people died needlessly in 2017 because someone ran a red light. That’s 10-year high for the nation and a 22% increase over the 2008-2016 average, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

In Wisconsin, 22 people died in such fatalities in 2017. That may seem like a small portion of the 939 deaths nationwide. After all, divide that by 50 states and you get 18 or 19 people, right? Actually, mounting deaths in Wisconsin contributed significantly to the nationwide spike: The state saw a 150% increase in 2017 over its 2008-2016 average.

We have a problem.

Nick Jarmusz, Midwest director of public affairs for AAA, puts it this way: “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.”

According to the AAA Foundation:

  • 28% of crash deaths at signalized intersections are the result of a driver running through a red light.

  • 46% of those killed were passengers or people in other vehicles.

  • more than 5% were pedestrians or cyclists.

  • Just over 35% of those killed were the drivers who ran those red lights.

According to the AAA Foundation’s Traffic Safety Culture Index, 85% of drivers surveyed view red light running as very dangerous. (What are the other 15% thinking, you should ask.) Now consider that 1 in 3 of those 85% admit that blowing through a red light within the past 30 days when they could have stopped safely.

We don’t think installing more roundabouts is the answer. Changing driver behavior is. That goes for the people running the red light as well as those jumping the green -- hitting the accelerator the moment the signal light changes. Those few “saved” seconds aren’t worth it.

Whenever you might be traveling through signal-controlled intersection -- be that by walking, biking or driving -- be alert, look both ways and expect that someone might blow through the light. Now commit that it won’t be you.