Impatient drivers defying traffic signals and trying to beat red lights is one of the major causes of injury in motor vehicle accidents, with innocent motorists often the victim of impatient fellow road users, says law firm Slater and Gordon.
Slater and Gordon Queensland Associate Gillian McKnight said the firm was regularly contacted by people seriously injured as a result of drivers running a red light signal, including one client whose life has been changed dramatically by a red light runner who was in a hurry to buy cigarettes.
Ms McKnight said the most recent road crash data report by the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, published in 2012, had found disobeying traffic light signals was among the top 10 contributing factors in fatal accidents.
“Whether it’s inattention or rushing to get to a destination, it’s concerning how many drivers put themselves and others at significant risk by failing to abide by traffic signals,” she said.
Carmel McCleverty, of Toowoomba, was seriously injured in June this year when a man driving a Holden Commodore at an estimated speed of 75km/h ran a red light at an intersection in the Toowoomba CBD and t-boned the Toyota Corolla sedan she was driving.
“I was driving to work along Herries Street and had gone through a green light and then the next thing I know someone’s tapping on my window asking: ‘Are you alright?’,” Ms McCleverty recalled.
Ms McCleverty suffered a fractured pelvis in five places as well as massive dental injuries and internal injuries when the sedan she was driving was written off.
“The paramedics and doctors who treated me were shocked that I was still alive,” she said.
“The police came to the hospital and told me the other driver had admitted running the red light because he was late for work and wanted to buy a packet of cigarettes on the way. He wasn’t injured and apparently continued on to work. I don’t know if he has been charged with anything. ”
Ms McCleverty, who had been working two jobs to save for her first holiday for a decade, said she had suffered considerable pain since the accident and had difficulty standing for long periods of time.
“This has changed my life and as well as being in constant pain it has left me feeling very insecure. He could have killed me. The accident has taken its toll and I feel like I’ve aged 20 years over the last three months.”
Ms McCleverty, who had never previously been in a road accident, said: “People just need to be patient and slow down. Life is too precious.”
Ms McKnight said Ms McCleverty was lucky to have survived considering the speed the other driver was travelling.
“Even if a driver isn’t speeding when a collision occurs, you’re looking at a car travelling at least 40-60 km/h through an intersection and that can cause significant damage,” she said.
Ms McKnight said driving through an amber traffic light was also considered the same as running a red light and carried the same penalty of a $330 fine and three demerit points.
“Believe it or not, it is a common misconception that it is okay to proceed on an amber light and many drivers go so far as to accelerate in order to avoid the impending red light,” Ms McKnight said.