ABC57 Investigates: Running Reds
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- If you go to any intersection and wait, chances are you will eventually see someone run a red light. It is usually a common traffic violation, but just how common is it in the Michiana area?
ABC57 Investigates decided to look at red light runners and the danger they pose to our community.
It started as an observation. We have all seen someone blow through a red light at excessive speeds. But the gamble can come at a high cost.
“The damage on the vehicles is a lot more and also the injuries are a lot greater, just because of the speed,” Sgt. Jason Dziubinski, who is with the St. Joseph County Police Department’s Traffic Division, says.
Sgt. Dziubinski is also a member the county’s FACT team, which investigates deadly crashes. While he says just an eighth of those deaths are from drivers running red lights, it was those scenes that stick with him the most.
“How it affects families, how it affects officers on the scene, because you go to a scene like that, it’s something that stays in your mind,” Sgt. Dziubinski says.
The St. Joe County Police Department’s jurisdiction only includes non-city limits, and Sgt. Dziubinski says there have been hundreds of traffic violations this year.
“Since January 1, our department has done over 2,600 traffic stops,” Sgt. Dziubinski says. “We have gotten 650 traffic complaints and we have written over 450 citations.”
Like many police departments, St. Joseph County’s system doesn’t break down traffic violations by type, so we could not get the exact number of red light violation tickets. But Sgt. Dziubinski says his department pulls over around five to 10 drivers per month for running red lights.
I asked how much of a priority goes to stopping drivers who run red lights. Sgt. Dziubinski tells us officers are told if they are not busy going to other calls or doing something else, they should be looking for traffic violations.
So, the ABC57 Investigates team decided to conduct an experiment. We picked an intersection that viewers told us frequently had drivers running reds; Main Street and Indian Ridge. We set our watch for 30 minutes and counted.
Not even one minute in, we already had someone brazenly blow through a red light there.
After 30 minutes, we counted 13 drivers running red lights at that intersection.
So how do you stop this?
Well, 22 states have red light cameras, and right now, Indiana is not one of them, so all those drivers walked away without tickets.
But Indiana does have cameras for school bus stop arm violations. Drivers who violate those are referred to the prosecutor’s office for charges.
We asked Sgt. Dziubinski about his thoughts on red light cameras.
“If we could somehow get those to the police and we can view those and identify the driver, I think that would stop a lot of this also,” Sgt. Dziubinski believes.
With gas prices at record highs, Sgt. Dziubinski says he’s surprised so many people are speeding. But he also says he has seen more bicyclists and pedestrians on the roadways.
“I think we are probably going to have an increase in those types of crashes and those usually do not end very well,” Sgt. Dziubinski says sternly.
That means, running red lights can have consequences outside of a ticket. But it is one problem we can control.
Sgt. Dziubinski says if you want to learn more about traffic violations in St. Joseph County or file a complaint, you can visit the St. Joseph County Police Department website.