Mayor Don Wesely today kicked off a month-long campaign aimed at decreasing the number of drivers who run red lights in the city. The effort includes extra enforcement at selected intersections and an educational campaign reminding drivers that, "It's red for a reason, so stop."
"The safety of our citizens is a top priority, and running red lights is dangerous behavior that is a threat to all motorists and pedestrians," Mayor Wesely said. "With enforcement and education, we hope to get the message to drivers that running red lights is illegal, and it can be deadly. Violators will be stopped and ticketed."
For the three year period from 1998 through 2000, accidents caused by red light running resulted in two fatalities, 502 injuries and 682 cases of property damage in Lincoln. Based on figures estimated by the National Safety Council, the costs associated with the red light accidents totals more than $25.3 million or $8.4 million a year.
The Police Department received a $20,000 mini-grant from the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety to provide extra enforcement. "We are targeting busy intersections and those that have a higher rate of accidents, but we could be at any intersection in the city at any given time," said Sergeant Dan Schmidt of the Lincoln Police Department's Traffic Enforcement Unit. Those running red lights face a $50 fine plus courts costs of $23.
The Nebraska Office of Highway Safety and the city Public Works and Utilities Department are funding the educational campaign. Public service announcements will air on local television and radio stations. Several informational booths will be set up in the community, including one at the County-City Building. Promotional items will be distributed through driver training programs of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department and the Nebraska Safety Council. The Federal Highway Administration and the Nebraska Trucking Association are also supporting the campaign.
The city worked with the National Office of Highway Safety on a similar program in 1997. Of the 32 cities chosen to participate in the pilot program, Lincoln's was given a national safety award for the planning, development and evaluation of its Red Light Running campaign. The national red light running awareness campaign is scheduled for October, and local officials plan to participate in that effort as well.