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Valley police say 5 different red-light running crashes caused 5 deaths in less than a month

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Posted at 4:25 AM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 12:11:37-04

PHOENIX — Green means go. Yellow means slow down. Red means stop. These are the basics for any driver before they ever get behind the wheel.

But in a matter of weeks, the Valley has seen five serious crashes. Five people are now dead and multiple people are injured from these incidents.

On Aug. 22, one person was killed and three others injured near Central Avenue and Camelback Road after Phoenix police believe a driver ran a red light. This caused an eight-car crash.

Three days later, two more people were killed after a crash near 83rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road. Glendale police tell ABC15 their initial investigation points to a speeding driver who did not stop at the red light.

Just hours after that, a mother and son were seriously injured in a crash near 57th Drive and Grand Avenue. Once again, Glendale police finding a similar scary storyline.

On Aug. 28, a baby was killed and four others were injured. Phoenix police believe a driver ran through the red light near 7th Street and Buckeye Road. They also said the infant was not in a car seat.

Then, on the Labor Day holiday, one more person was killed near 15th Avenue and Bethany Home Road. Phoenix police said not only did one driver go through a red light, but they are also investigating impairment as a factor.

Take a look at each of the serious red-light running Valley crashes in recent weeks in the interactive map below.

Shortly after airing this report, a Thursday morning crash involved a Kia Soul reportedly running a red light and hitting a BMW vehicle, sending the Soul into the barrier wall. This marks the sixth serious red light crash in recent times.

Executive Director of Red Means Stop Maria Wojtczak, believes it is a dangerous time to be a driver in Arizona. It is even worse that the danger is preventable.

Wojtczak works to stop bad driving habits from forming at her driving school, DrivingMBA, in Scottsdale and Glendale.

"It's really helping them understand how prevalent it is out there," Wojtczak said.

Her instructors teach students what often surrounds this bad behavior, like cell phones, speeding, and impatience while driving.

"I've got instructors who are out there eight hours a day. Sometimes they'll see as many as 10 or 12 red-light runners with these kids in the car," Wojtczak said.

Drivers can never really know when a red-light runner is going to make that dangerous move. But Wojtczak said they are teaching drivers techniques as they approach an intersection.

"We have them hesitate," Wojtczak explained. "Look! Left, center, right, left again and make sure that it's clear before they go through the light."

She stresses how important it is to take a few seconds to really see if drivers are slowing down to a stop, no matter how aggressive those behind you can be.

"If they're beeping at you, whatever," Wojtczak said. "You do what you need to do to keep you safe because that's all the control you have is over what you do in your own vehicle."

In their teaching, green does not just mean go. It means proceed with caution, as Arizona remains number one in the nation for red-light running death.

AAA surveyed drivers for this research released in 2019. They found most drivers acknowledge how dangerous red-light running was, but one in three drivers admitted to doing it in the last 30 days because they did not think they would be caught.

Do you have a road issue or a question for the Operation Safe Roads team? You can call 833-AZ-ROADS or email roads@abc15.com.