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Dear Mahatma: I'm sure this has been a subject in your column, but it is worth reiterating that the epidemic of running red lights is dangerous and deadly. What can be done to bring about a change in attitude? -- No Longer Takes Green for Granted

Dear No Longer: It's true this morsel has been chewed here often but is worth repeated discussion.

You reference an AAA study on the matter. AAA reports:

• That 939 people died in 2017 as a result of crashes caused by the running of red lights, a 10-year high.

• That of these deaths, 46 percent were passengers or people in other vehicles and about 5 percent were pedestrians or cyclists. Just over 35% of those killed were the drivers who ran the red light.

• That three of those 2017 fatalities occurred in Arkansas, about average for the 10-year period.

Three doesn't sound like much, unless one of the three is a relative or friend. Then that death is devastating.

For context, let's look at other data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which reports that Arkansas had 493 traffic deaths in 2017. Of these deaths, 275 were drivers. Of those drivers, 209 were known to have had a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 % or higher. That percentage is the legal limit.

The point, circular as it may be, is that drunk driving is far more hazardous than the running of red lights.

That is not to diminish the latter but to think about how law enforcement should deploy its resources.

Horrified by a particular intersection where red lights are routinely run? Call the police department and ask for enforcement, keeping in mind that such enforcement can't be continuous.

Now to solutions. One is red-light cameras -- not. Arkansas law prohibits such things. Want red-light cameras? Persuade the General Assembly in its next regular session. Good luck with that.

A solution all can implement is defensive driving. AAA recommends that before entering an intersection after the light has turned green, a driver should take a moment and look both ways before proceeding.

We do this, especially at one intersection where red-light running freaks us out.

There is justice. Occasionally. We were at this intersection the other day. A driver ran a red light. A patrol car happened to be here, too. The miscreant was apprehended before our very eyes.

On another topic, we quote the Cuban-American philosopher Ricky Ricardo: "You got some splaining to do."

Last week's Q&A on parking in a van-accessible spot was confusingly "splained." Here's Arkansas Code Annotated 27-15-312.

It says a parking space reserved for a person with a disability that is designated as "van accessible" shall be used exclusively by a vehicle that loads or unloads a wheelchair, a three-wheeled or four-wheeled scooter, a four-wheeled walker with a seat, or a similar device, and displays a van-accessible parking decal.

[email protected]

Metro on 11/23/2019


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