City adds new backgrounds to traffic lights to reduce red-light runners

Traffic and Roads

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque is trying something new to tackle the red light running problem, with traffic signals they hope you can’t miss. The San Mateo and Montgomery intersection is one of the busiest in the city, with one of the highest crash rates. To try and make it safer, the city has put a yellow border on the background of the traffic lights hoping to get more drivers to stop on red.


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“We believe that these have the potential to help people from running red lights, to draw their attention to the fact that there is a red light or yellow light or a green light and it’s going to benefit all roadway users. That’s drivers, that’s bicyclists, as well as pedestrians,” said Department of Municipal Development, Spokesperson Johnny Chandler.

The Department of Municipal Development says research from other cities across the country shows that drivers’ attention is drawn to the traffic light when there is that yellow border surrounding it. The city says they installed the borders as part of its Vision Zero ABQ action plan with a goal of zero traffic deaths and severe injuries by the year 2040. Of course, there are people who accidentally run a red light but will this stop someone who blows through the red on purpose?

“If somebody decides and intentionally runs a red light, there’s nothing that’s going to stop them. A police officer will stop them, hopefully, if they catch them. If somebody intently runs a red light, runs through an intersection on a red, they’re endangering themselves, they’re endangering the lives of others, they’re being incredibly irresponsible and there’s very little that can be done for somebody that intently violates the law,” said Chandler.

“We don’t go right away when it’s green. I think all of us have gotten used to watching the intersection much more carefully; any intersection,” said driver Valerie Platt.

The city will analyze the data from this intersection for the next six months to a year and if it’s successful, the yellow border backgrounds will be installed on lights at other dangerous intersections. The city says the yellow background costs less than $1,000 to make and install.

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