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Fool runnings: Nearly 40 percent of drivers blow red light at Ridge intersection

Brooklyn Daily
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Drivers in Bay Ridge are seeing red — and then hitting the gas.

A whopping 37 percent of motorists blow through the red light at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and 88th Street, according to a new study. The researchers found that nearly one in 10 New York drivers who are first to approach a red light do not wait for it to turn green — which transportation activists say is a disturbing statistic.

“We need to make decisions that are going to keep us safe on our streets, and running red lights is not one of those decisions,” said Luke Ohlson, the Brooklyn organizer at Transportation Alternatives, a group that advocates for cyclists and pedestrians. “It is really unsettling.”

Professors at Hunter College performed the study by sending their students to 50 intersections around the city, where they recorded whether the first vehicles at each a red light obeyed the law or not.

The monitor stationed at the Bay Ridge intersection recorded 22 motorists running red lights across two one-hour periods — only one other light, in Bushwick, saw more transgressions. But a greater percentage of drivers ran the light in Bay Ridge — 37 percent — than the Bushwick light, with 29 percent, the data shows.

Compare that with the citywide average of 8.7 percent of drivers running red lights, the study found.

The academics only allowed their pupils to count the infraction if the light was red when the driver put pedal to the metal — not when a driver ran through just as it turned from yellow to red.

The monitors noted that drivers at the Ridge intersection did not just blow through the light willy-nilly — they typically stopped for the red light, looked both ways, and then went through, as if they were at a stop sign rather a traffic light.

The study showed that many drivers are prioritizing speed over both the law and safety, said the researchers.

“People just assume that driving and getting someplace quickly is the norm,” said Hunter College urban planning professor William Milczarski, who co-directed the study at the university. “If they understood the real danger to themselves and others, I hope they would slow down a bit and not try to get through the light.”

And another Ridge stop light made the top of the list — nearly 20 percent of drivers floored it through the light at 77th Street and Seventh Avenue.

The study also found that drivers run more red lights on Mondays, that taxi drivers — though not livery cab drivers — blow more red lights than regular motorists, and that male and female drivers were roughly equally likely to run the light — though they were slightly less likely to gun it if they had a female passenger along for the ride.

The students made 4,379 observations, visiting each site for an hour between 7:30 am and 6:30 pm on two separate days between April 2 and May 13 of this year.— with Max Jaeger

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Updated 6:09 pm, June 10, 2015
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