Beating the red - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Beating the red

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Certain factors make it more likely that you'll speed through a yellow light instead of stopping. Certain factors make it more likely that you'll speed through a yellow light instead of stopping.
Bickel says motorists intent on beating the red are often distracted by other things. Bickel says motorists intent on beating the red are often distracted by other things.
Don Bickel, director of Marion County Traffic Safety Partnership Don Bickel, director of Marion County Traffic Safety Partnership

Scott Swan/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - When you see a yellow light at the intersection, do you speed up or stop? The answer may depend on your vehicle, the posted speed limit or even the lane you're in.

University of Cincinnati engineering student Zhixia Li studied the "yellow light dilemma" in Ohio and found certain factors make it more likely that you'll speed through a yellow light instead of stopping. 

Drivers in the right lane are 1.6 times more likely to speed through a yellow light.

Don Bickel, director of Marion County Traffic Safety Partnership, says that may be the result of signals located near the center of bigger intersections further away from the right lane.

The study from the University of Cincinnati also determined the type of vehicle was a factor. Drivers in heavy trucks are more likely to "pass through" a yellow light versus drivers of cars, SUV's, vans or pickup trucks.

"Larger vehicles have more weight so it takes them a longer distance to stop for a red light," said Bickel.

Travel speed was also a factor. The study determined the faster you're driving, the more likely you'll speed through a yellow light.

The posted speed limit also plays a role in a driver's decision. The higher the speed limit, the more likely drivers will speed through a yellow light.

But beating the red is dangerous. Last year, signal violations were the primary cause of 6,621 crashes and 51 deaths in Indiana.

Bickel says motorists intent on beating the red are often distracted by other things.

"People are not paying attention to everything going on. They could be talking to other people in the vehicle, using the cell phone," said Bickel. "We want everybody to prepare to stop when the light turns yellow not to speed up to make it through."

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