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Whether due do distraction, impatience or impairment, too often drivers fail to obey traffic signs and signals, with potentially deadly results. In North Carolina alone, the AAA reports that there were 254 red-light deaths between 2008 and 2017. Almost half of those killed in red-light collisions were drivers or passengers in other vehicles.

Even a cautious driver may risk severe injury or death if another motorist ignores or misses a red light or stop sign. That makes it essential that motorists practice defensive driving when approaching and passing through intersections. Making sure to follow a few basic guidelines when approaching a signalized intersection may help drivers to avoid a collision.

  1. Pay attention to how long a traffic light has been green

The AAA cites speeding up when a signal turns yellow as one of the leading causes of red-light collisions. If a signal has been green for some time, drivers should assume that the light may be yellow by the time they reach the intersection and proceed with caution.

  1. Take a moment to pause when entering an intersection

Even when a driver has the right of way, he or she should always take a few moments to pause and look both ways for pedestrians, cyclists or other motorists who may be in or entering the intersection.

  1. Be prepared to stop

Drivers should not assume that others will obey the rules of the road. “Covering the brake” when passing through an intersection by removing the right foot from the accelerator and positioning it just above the brake pedal may give the motorist crucial extra seconds to react.

  1. Tap the brake pedal

When approaching a yellow or red signal, drivers should give the brake pedal a couple of light taps before coming to a full stop. This may help alert a distracted or inattentive driver who is following and potentially prevent a rear-end collision.