Here’s What Can Happen When You Try to 'Beat' Traffic Lights

Even as a kid, you probably knew what those hanging lights that you saw everywhere meant. Red is for stopping, green is for going, and yellow is for slowing. Now that you're finally behind the wheel, you can put one of the first rules of the road you learned into practice while staying safe. 

Here's What Can Happen When You Try to "Beat" Traffic Lights

It's really tempting to push the accelerator to the floor and speed through a yellow light, but it's downright dangerous. You may think you're saving yourself time from having to sit at a red light, but a few extra seconds isn't worth the chance of getting a ticket, causing an accident, or even causing a fatality. 

You Can Get a Ticket

Depending on your state, it can be pretty expensive if you get caught running a traffic light. For example, in Oklahoma, disregarding a traffic light will cost you $183. You'll also end up in jail if you get caught running traffic lights on a regular basis. Don't get a ticket and keep your money in your wallet.

You Can Cause an Accident

One in three drivers reported running a red light in the past 30 days. If this many people are running red lights, think of all of the accidents that could happen on a daily basis. You don't want to have to pay higher insurance rates if you do get into an accident.

You Can Kill Someone

The worst possible outcome of running a red light is that it costs someone their life. In 2020 alone, 928 people died and 116,000 sustained injuries due to crashes from running a red light. Half of these people weren't even driving a car. They were pedestrians and bikers hit by people trying to beat a light. No one deserves to die just for trying to legally cross the street.

How to Safely Approach a Traffic Light

Now that you know why you shouldn't try to beat traffic lights, learn how to navigate an intersection and keep yourself from involving yourself in an accident at one:

  • Count to three— If you're leading the pack when a light goes from red to green, pause for a few seconds. The people behind you might be angry, but you'll have a chance to ensure no one is running the light before you proceed. 

  • Look in every direction — After counting to three, take a look both ways before entering an intersection to watch for red light runners.

  • Stop completely behind the white line — Another way to keep yourself from getting hit in an intersection is to stop completely behind the white line that designates where to stop. 

  • Make eye contact — If you're a pedestrian or biker, make eye contact with the drivers to ensure they see you crossing the road. 

You should also be aware of how to navigate an intersection when the lights are in anything but their normal state. If the lights are flashing yellow, it means you should slow down and be aware. It doesn't mean that the light is turning red. If the power is out to the traffic signal, treat it as a stop sign. Just because it's out, doesn't mean you can act like it doesn't exist. 

Stay Safe by Stopping at Traffic Lights

There's never a good reason why you should ever run a traffic light. Safety always needs to come first. Another way to learn how to be safe on the road is by taking a driver's ed course at You can take our interactive online lessons completely at your own pace to learn your state's traffic rules.

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