Stopping Red Light Runners A Dangerous Task For Tulsa Police, Drivers

Tuesday, May 12th 2015, 7:50 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Police are writing tickets for people who speed through both red and yellow lights; but can they stop the red-light runners at some of Tulsa's most dangerous intersections?

Police said catching up to the drivers isn't easy, and can be dangerous. So even though we see people run red lights, it works out to about 125 drivers a month getting tickets and a $200 fine.

It might seem like they're everywhere - cars running through red lights or speeding up to get through a yellow.

And that's despite almost 2,000 citations issued for drivers running red lights. Often times, the ticket comes after a crash, according to Tulsa Police Sergeant, Stephen Boyes.

"We have a lot of serious injury collisions in intersections, and often it's someone who has run a red or yellow light," he said.

News On 6 went over the citations for red light runners over the last 16 months. From that data, a map shows the hotspots for tickets - usually around shopping malls, or downtown.

View The News On 6 Citation Map

In more than 300 cases, the person who got the ticket also got arrested for something else.

While it's easy for civilians to spot cars going through on red, police officers said it's not so easy to stop the drivers.

The nature of the crime means the offender is driving away from the officer, so stopping people efficiently requires a spotter and runner - and that takes more resources than the police have available.

"You've got to figure out how to navigate through all this traffic in a hurry, to go through this green light without causing a wreck myself. It's very difficult for an officer in a vehicle to do that," Boyes said.

Tulsa has 516 intersections with signals, so there's plenty of opportunity to earn a ticket or to give one out.

Police gave the most tickets at places like 7th and Elgin downtown, where commuters might be running late to work.

Another hotspot was 11th and Garnett - where there's heavy traffic at all times of day.

While the fine and enforcement is focused on red, police also issue tickets for people who go through on yellow.

"If you're approaching an intersection and you can see it's turned yellow, you're probably not going to make it through before it turns red, you just need to go ahead and stop," said Boyes.

Our map only shows red light citations - not tickets issued for the lesser offense of running through yellow which is still a $150 fine.