On March 1, 1999, Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull proclaimed March as Red Light Running Awareness Month in the state. Every year since, at the request of Red Means Stop, Arizona Governors’ have issued this proclamation.
In 1999, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a study that showed Arizona to be the worst state in the nation for fatalities from red light running crashes. Further, the City of Phoenix was the worst city with a population of 100,000+, for red light crash fatalities.
These statistics reinforced the need for a group like Red Means Stop to make the public aware of the serious affect red light running was having on our state. The founders of Red Means Stop, Les Marquis, John Philippi and I, set out on a journey in early 1999 to educate drivers about the injuries and deaths that were occurring daily on our roadways. Victims and their families joined the cause, as did safety advocates and local organizations like the John C. Lincoln Hospital, State Farm Insurance, the Rural Metro Corporation and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Fast forward to March, 2013, and the cause continues. Sadly, drivers, passengers and pedestrians are still being injured and killed on our roads because of red light runners. The good news is Arizona is no longer the worst state in the nation. However, it still ranks in the top ten when it comes to fatalities from red light running crashes.
The 2013 goal of the Red Means Stop Traffic Safety Alliance is to educate a new generation of safe, responsible drivers, breaking the cycle of continuing to put ill prepared teenagers behind the wheel. If we expect our children to grow into safe drivers when they reach adulthood, neglecting the basics as teens is a huge mistake. Many of today’s adults never faced the challenges our teens currently face on the road. Traffic conditions are far worse and the distractions are greater than ever before. We believe our Novice Teen Driver Program will arm young drivers with the skills necessary to make them the best possible adult drivers of the future.
The injuries to Krystal Philippi and Sam Marquis along with the death of Jennifer Hinds due to red light running crashes, are no longer just statistics, but are our motivation to continue to do whatever it takes to make our roadways safer for everyone.