Though it’s difficult to know for sure how many traffic fatalities a year can be attributed to red light violations, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association estimates that 750 deaths occur annually because a driver ran a red light.
Sadly, a recent collision in North Carolina will contribute to that statistic.
William Todd Smith, 40, of Asheboro, was waiting in his vehicle in the intersection of Pleasant Ridge Road and U.S. Highway 64 preparing to make a turn. Suddenly, he was hit by a pickup truck. Mr. Smith unexpectedly lost his life that day, May 5, 2011.
Pickup truck driver Kevin Nywenig, 44, also from Asheboro, ran a red light, allegedly causing the fatal collision. He was also injured, but not seriously.
Mr. Nywenig’s pickup truck struck an additional vehicle after hitting Mr. Smith’s car. The second collision injured driver Connie Salazar and her 19-year-old passenger from Ramseur. They all went to an area hospital where they were treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Pending investigation, Mr. Nywenig will likely face charges that could include misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. He was already cited for running a red light according to Trooper Greg Ingram.
There are groups nationwide that work to prevent red light violations. In North Carolina, the General Assembly has a history of experimenting with red light cameras like the school zone speeding cameras currently being considered in the legislature. Unfortunately, many red light camera programs across the state have been abandoned because municipalities opposed to allocating the entire proceeds from fees collected to North Carolina’s public schools.