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Red Light Running Campaign
Frequently Asked Questions about the Red Light Running Campaign
What is the "Red Light Running" Campaign?
The "Red Light Running" campaign is a comprehensive safety outreach program developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) which incorporates public information and education with aggressive law enforcement. Communities joining this campaign will receive public service announcements (PSAs) for television, radio and print, as well as technical assistance from FHWA and their contractor, a social marketing firm. Armed with these tools and start-up funding, selected communities can customize the campaign to meet their local needs.
Is running red lights a serious problem?
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, disregarding traffic controls is a leading cause of urban crashes in the United States today, representing 22 percent of the total number of crashes. The economic impact of these crashes is estimated at $7 billion each year in medical costs, time off work, insurance hikes, and property damage.
Why is the Federal Highway Administration involved in this effort?
Coupled with FHWA's mission to provide the nation with safe and efficient transportation, is the agency's commitment to expand public outreach efforts. Increasing awareness of road way-related issues can only serve to enhance safety for the traveling public. This translates into a health and economic benefit for the entire country.
How was Red Light Running selected as a public outreach initiative?
Nearly four years ago, representatives from FHWA field offices and headquarters met to discuss ways to enhance the public's understanding of the agency and its purpose, specifically as it relates to roadway safety. Among the topics generated by participants, was the public's disregard for traffic signals and signs.
The FHWA is responsible for establishing standards for all traffic control signals and signs used on public roads. Participants felt that the public's compliance with signals is deteriorating and more importantly, that the public's perception of the dangers of running a red light is also diminishing. Subsequent focus group research found that the public is losing sight of the purpose of the signal and many felt that signals and their timing cycles were arbitrary.
Was Red Light Running pilot tested prior to this national implementation?
Campaign materials were pilot tested last summer in a three county area surrounding Charleston, South Carolina. The Trident/ Charleston area was selected because it had a documented crash problem at intersections with signals; the traffic signal system was not the cause of this problem; the business community was a strong supporter of various traffic safety initiatives; and the local enforcement agencies demonstrated a willingness to enforce RLR violations. The RLR pilot campaign was extremely successful, with a 48 percent viewer recognition rate of PSAs and a reduction of traffic crashes at intersections with signals. These results, coupled with post-campaign focus group research, were instrumental in the decision to implement the RLR campaign nationally.
How was the RLR campaign introduced to communities across the country?
The results of the RLR pilot test were showcased in a technical panel at the annual meeting of the National Association of Governors' Highway Safety Representatives (NAGHSR) which was held in Sacramento, California last September. NAGHSR members enthusiastically embraced this new safety outreach initiative and endorsed its national implementation. Following campaign overview sessions in each of FHWA's nine regions, FHWA field staff marketed the RLR campaign to communities across the country and invited them to apply for implementation grants. In addition, FHWA sponsored an RLR workshop at Lifesavers 13 last April in Indianapolis, Indiana. Lifesavers is the nation's largest traffic safety conference and draws representatives from a variety of disciplines concerned with traffic safety issues.
What was the grant selection process?
Community organizations around the country, including police agencies, county governments and community coalitions, applied for "Red Light Running" grants through a detailed application process. Selection criteria mirrored those established for the pilot site: namely, the documentation of a red light running problem; an assurance that communities' signal systems meet federal standards and are operational; a community structure equipped to implement this type of outreach campaign; and the support of law enforcement agencies. An FHWA selection committee rated all applications against these criteria. The response was overwhelming and each applicant will receive a complete set of RLR campaign materials and technical assistance from FHWA headquarters. In addition, RLR grants will be awarded to the top 32 community applicants.
How much grant money will be awarded in total?
Over $600,000 will be disbursed among the selected communities. In addition, PSAs will be individually tagged for each community and technical support and marketing assistance from the contractor will be available throughout the length of individual community campaigns.
Why is this campaign being implemented on a local versus national level?
Local organizations, safety coalitions, and law enforcement agencies are uniquely qualified to implement community programs.
What is the primary objective of the campaign?
The basic objectives of the RLR campaign are to reduce traffic crashes and serious injuries, as well as the economic costs these crashes impose on communities. The RLR campaign materials underscore the hazards associated with red light running and are intended to raise awareness of this traffic safety issue among the motoring public.
How will you judge the success of the campaigns?
Communities will conduct surveys to gauge community awareness of and attitudes towards signal compliance, gathering and analyzing RLR citation statistics and crash history, and conducting observational studies of cars running red lights at selected intersections. Once the national RLR campaign is completed, FHWA will produce a final report summarizing the findings.
How does the Federal Highway Administration's Red Light Running campaign tie in with using cameras for enforcement?
The FHWA Red Light Running program is a public information and education campaign that is to be implemented with aggressive law enforcementwhether it involves assigning offic ers to patrol high hazard locations or installing automated equipment at key intersections. In fact, one of our television public service announcements revolves around a law enforcement theme with a powerful message: law enforcement intends to stop red light runners for their own good.
Red Light Running PSA
The following story board was adapted from a public service announcement developed by the Federal Highway Administration.
For More Information
For more information about the Red Light Running Campaign, contact Mila Plosky at:
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration