The research carried out by honours students Blake Williamson and Oliver Webb, also showed drivers are more inclined to jump red lights in areas of slower lower speed limits.
Between 2010-2012 and there were 665 crashes in New Zealand after cars failed to stop at red lights, involving nine fatalities. Numerous studies have investigated the behaviour of drivers that run red lights, Williamson says.
“Vehicle speed, road conditions, time of day, direction of movement and type of vehicle can all impact on why a large number of drivers run red lights. Little research has been carried out involving differences in sunlight levels during peak times and the subsequent effect they may have on red light running behaviour.
“To investigate further, we studied three intersections with traffics lights in Christchurch. Each intersection had a unique speed limit. One survey for each intersection was carried out during the autumn month of May and the same process repeated in the darker winter month of July. Each survey involved observing traffic flows during morning and afternoon peak hours from Tuesday to Thursday as well as one afternoon survey on Sundays.
“We recorded the total number of cars driving through the intersection, the number of phase changes and the number of red light runners. About three quarters of all red light offences were done by right turning vehicles.
“Two-thirds of all red light offences were observed at the 50 kilometres an hour intersection with the vast majority of offending vehicles being privately owned. The overall difference in red light offenders between the winter and summer months showed little to no change with only a four percent difference. Ninety percent of all red light violators were private vehicles and there was only one instance of a driver running a red light at the weekend.’’
The research findings will be presented at the university’s civil and natural resources engineering research conference on campus in October.
The research was supervised by traffic safety engineering expert Dr Tony Sze. The results indicate no definite difference in sunlight level changing the behaviour of red light runners.
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