Recent news of a driver in Overland Park who hit four school children after running a red light has many Kansas City residents up in arms. Thankfully, the children are recovering from their injuries. The driver was only fined $150 for the incident. This consequence strikes many as disproportionate to the damage the driver caused.

Nationwide, running through red lights seems to be a growing issue. AAA reports that deaths due to drivers who ran a red light have increased 28% since 2012. Additionally, nearly one-third of the individuals who responded to AAA safety survey noted that they had run a red light in the past 30 days. With all the risk attached to running a red light, some individuals are advocating for harsher consequences and more accountability around this traffic law.

Defining red-light running

In Missouri, running a red light means purposefully entering an intersection when the traffic signal shows a steady red. So, drivers waiting in the intersection to turn left are not violating this law as long as the light was still green or yellow when they entered. Typically, running a red light in Missouri carries a fine of $99 to $150 and a driver’s license demerit, but the consequences can vary if the driver caused a traffic accident or other damage.

Red-light cameras

Red-light cameras are one safety measure that seems to reduce red-light running incidents. This tool automatically takes a picture of any car that enters an intersection on red and sends a notice of the fine to the address on file for that car’s registered owner. Red-light cameras faced criticism in Missouri in 2017, as it was unclear how the state would handle fines fairly if another driver using your car ran a red light. Furthermore, some people saw these cameras as revenue-generating schemes for the city rather than safety measures. But after this public outcry, Kansas City may revisit initiatives to add red-light cameras to risky intersections.