Fool runnings: 30% of drivers blowing red light at B’wick intersection, study finds

Fool runnings: 30% of drivers blowing red light at B’wick intersection, study finds
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Drivers in Bushwick are seeing red — and then hitting the gas.

A whopping 30 percent of motorists blow through the red light at the intersection of Evergreen and Gates avenues, according to a new study. The researchers found that nearly one in 10 New York drivers who are first to approach a red light do not wait for it to turn green, which transportation activists say is a disturbing statistic.

“We need to make decisions that are going to keep us safe on our streets, and running red lights is not one of those decisions,” said Luke Ohlson, the Brooklyn organizer at Transportation Alternatives, a group that advocates for cyclists and pedestrians. “It is really unsettling.”

Professors at Hunter College performed the study by sending their students to 50 intersections around the city, where they were instructed to record whether the first vehicles at each red light obeyed the law or not. The student stationed at the Bushwick intersection recorded 28 drivers running red lights across two one-hour periods.

The academics only allowed their pupils to count the infraction if the light was red when the driver put pedal to the metal — not when an automobilist ran through just as it was turning from yellow to red. If students had counted those drivers too, the study notes, the figures would have been far worse.

The undergraduates who did the legwork noted that drivers at the Evergreen and Gates intersection did not just run through the light willy-nilly — they typically stopped for the red light, looked both ways, and then went through, as if they were at a stop sign rather a traffic light.

The study showed that many drivers are prioritizing speed over both the law and safety, said the organizers of the investigation.

“People just assume that driving and getting someplace quickly is the norm,” said Hunter College urban planning professor William Milczarski, who co-directed the study at the university. “If they understood the real danger to themselves and others, I hope they would slow down a bit and not try to get through the light.”

Transportation Alternatives organizers said they plan to urge the police department to dispatch cops to the Bushwick intersection and ticket all scofflaws.

Other Brooklyn intersections in the study that had a high percentage of red-light runners were 88th Street and Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge where 37 percent ran the light, 77th Street and Seventh Avenue in Bay Ridge where almost 20 percent floored it, and New Lots Avenue and Miller Avenue in East New York where almost 23 percent ignored the stop light.

The study also found that drivers run more red lights on Mondays; taxi drivers — though not livery cab drivers — blow more red lights than regular motorists; and that male and female drivers were roughly equally likely to run the light — though they were slightly less likely to gun it if they had a female passenger along for the ride.

The students made 4,379 observations, visiting each site for an hour between 7:30 am and 6:30 pm on two separate days between April 2 and May 13 of this year.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.