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Running red lights continues to play role in traffic collisions

City averages 82 collisions per year
By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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In the wake of a fatal motorcycle collision last month at a busy Roseville intersection, red-light running continues to be an issue in Roseville. On Jan. 12, Grant Alan Severson, 42, of Roseville, was riding a 1981 Kawasaki motorcycle west on Pleasant Grove Boulevard when he collided with a 1998 Mazda pickup in the intersection at Washington Boulevard. According to police, several independent witnesses to the collision said that Severson ran a red light before colliding with the truck. While the official cause of the accident is still under investigation, police say that running red lights is the fifth-most common cause of traffic collisions in Roseville, causing about 8 percent of all collisions. The most common cause of accidents is unsafe speed, which accounts for about 30 percent of all collisions, police said. “Although red light running is a less common cause of collisions, it’s still very dangerous and can cause serious injuries or death,” said Roseville Police Department spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther. Jerry Pare, who lives close to the intersections of Melody Lane and Cirby Way in Roseville, said he has witnessed several accidents at that intersection as a result of people running the red light. “The problem seems to be you’re looking at two sets of traffic lights,” Pare said. “There are accidents where people are turning onto Melody Lane, and people going east on Cirby just do not stop.” The city of Roseville operated automated red light enforcement at a few intersections in the city for two years, roughly from 2005 through 2006, but those cameras are no longer in use. “We didn’t publicize which intersections had the cameras, because we wanted motorists to assume the cameras were everywhere,” Gunther said. Gunther said red-light running collisions citywide decreased about 16 to 17 percent during those two years, compared with the periods before and after. “So the automated enforcement program may have acted as a deterrent,” Gunther said. The city of Roseville deactivated those cameras in 2006 due to conflicting interests with the private company which offered the service, Gunther said. “It wasn’t in the financial interest of either party to keep them going,” Gunther said. Gunther added that over the years, the number of red-light collisions has remained fairly stable. She pointed out that the city’s population also increased 15 percent since 2006, the last year automated enforcement was in operation. “We haven’t seen a corresponding increase in red light running collisions,” Gunther said. Gunther said the city has averaged 82 red-light running collisions per year over the last 10 years. Roseville police officers issued a total of 128 citations for red-light running in 2011. Between 2009 and 2011, the city had only one fatal collision where the primary factor was red-light running, Gunther said. Gunther said people run red lights because they are simply in too big of a hurry — and that is when accidents tend to occur. “Most motorists don’t mean to run a red light, but they speed up in an attempt to get through the intersection before the light changes,” she said. Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.