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Last Updated: Friday, 20 June, 2003, 07:17 GMT 08:17 UK
Action call over light jumping
Red light
The study found bus drivers more likely to break lights than car drivers
The RAC has called on police to target the increasing number of motorists who jump traffic lights.

A study of drivers' attitudes by the RAC Foundation - the campaigning arm of the motoring organisation - has found that even bus drivers are failing to abide by the lights.

The organisation wants the government and police to put funds into traffic light cameras, as well as enforcement, rather than speed cameras.

The snapshot survey of driver behaviour in London and Glasgow found a surprising number of motorists and cyclists failed to stop on red or attempted to scramble through on amber.

One in 10 car drivers risked a serious accident or injury to themselves, other road users and pedestrians by driving through a traffic light when it had been red for over three seconds

A further one in five took a chance on a last-minute amber signal.

Bus drivers

Bus drivers too were observed to frequently disobey traffic lights. In London, as many as a fifth of bus drivers were found to go through traffic signals, making them worse offenders than car drivers.

Cyclists were found to have the least regard for traffic lights, most notably in central London.

In Glasgow up to one in four cyclists seemed to have no regard for traffic lights, while in central London this rose to 50% of those on bicycles.

The RAC Foundation's traffic and road safety manager, Kevin Delaney, said: "Growing congestion is frustrating for all road users.

Traffic jam
Congestion could be leading to drivers taking more risks
"It makes them late, often so late that their journey is wasted and they don't get to their destination.

"This may increase the temptation to ignore red traffic lights, but it is dangerous and a foolish way to beat the clock.

"However, it seems that an increasing number of drivers and cyclists are putting their safety and that of other road users, especially pedestrians, in jeopardy by risking it at traffic lights.

"We hope that government and the police will give greater priority to tackling the red mist which descends over this anti-social minority.

"We want them to put the same level of effort into detecting red light running and prosecuting offenders, be they motorists or cyclists, as they presently do for speeding."

Sneaking through a light gives someone an illusion of power and freedom, albeit for a brief few seconds
RAC Foundation psychologist Conrad King

Cyclist Willie Dixon, a member of campaign group CTC Scotland, admitted that many of his friends in Glasgow, where the RAC survey was conducted, did jump red lights.

"Sometimes it's just because they can, but sometimes it is to get ahead of the traffic.

"If you're turning left, you don't want to be cut into the pavement."

Mr Dixon said it would help if more advance stop areas for cyclists were added to lights because "it gives you that little bit of a jump".

Conrad King, the RAC Foundation's consultant psychologist, said: "Both motorists and cyclists have their own flexible moral code when it comes to traffic lights.

"If they are in a hurry, it might be ok to go through a light which has just turned red.

"If they are not, then they may well still go through a light on amber.

"Sneaking through a light gives someone an illusion of power and freedom, albeit for a brief few seconds.

"In congestion rife modern cities even that illusion is hard to come by when you are stuck behind the wheel."

The BBC's Simon Montague
"It will be a difficult problem to solve"

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