A few years ago, after picking up some take-out in Waite Park, I was rear-ended while at a stop light by a drunk driver who was running the red light. He didn't even see me stopped at the intersection in front of him.

I was okay. My car was totaled.

And the guy didn't have insurance, so I got to pay my $500 deductible, too.

So, I know first hand about the dangers of red light running.



There's a story of legend I've heard repeated over the years here in the Granite City. I don't know if it actually happened, but the story involves a truck driver on Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show" who says St. Cloud is the worst place to drive.

Now, I don't believe we're the worst. But if you said we had more red light runners than your typical metro area, I would believe that 100%.

And why do we have so many drivers going through CLEARLY red lights (looking at you semi-truck at Highway 15 and Veterans Drive)? How many times do you have a green or a left turn arrow and someone two or three seconds later runs the red right in front of you? IT. HAPPENS. ALL. THE. TIME.

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Simply said, there are too many damn stop lights in St. Cloud.


Major thoroughfares -- Second Avenue South, Division, Third Street North, Veterans -- all have stop lights every few blocks. And if you want to get anywhere in a timely way, you have to pray for greens.

That, my friend, rarely happens. Oh, it DOES happen -- but rarely. More often, you'll hit several red lights on your short journey.

Many of us have short attention spans and short fuses. So if we're approaching an intersection and the lights turn yellow...that little voice often tells us "gun it" and go through the yellow that may have actually turn red before we make it through.

Sometimes people just run the light because they're in a hurry and they think they can get by with it.

Sometimes this ends very badly.

According to The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2021, 1,109 people were killed in crashes that involved red light running in America.

That's a lot of avoidable deaths, not to mention all the people hurt and the property damaged or destroyed.

So what's the answer?



I'm not sure what safety statistics show for all those intersections with roundabouts that have popped-up in recent years across the St. Cloud metro. But from a driver's perspective, I rarely have to stop at a traffic circle. If I DO have to stop, it's for only a moment. And although they have their own issues, traffic circles/roundabouts keep traffic flowing at a slower speed and you don't have red light runners.



I really believe drivers wouldn't run red lights as often if they didn't think they would get stuck waiting for what feels like an eternity at an intersection. Especially when they have five more sets of lights straight ahead.



What if we had some intersections that were ALWAYS stopping intersections? If you know you have to stop at that intersection, you can plan for it. Yeah, it may be a pain, but you can plan for it. And it's potentially safer because it reduces speeds at a controlled intersection.



As anyone who regularly drives Veterans Drive near the National Guard Armory knows, St. Cloud Police squad cars often park in the Armory parking lot as a speed deterrent and to actually pull-over speeders. The speed limit is 30 mph in that area and it doesn't take much to speed.

Do I like the police there all the time? No. But something in the back of my mind tells me on Veterans, there's a fairly persistent speed trap and to SLOW. IT. DOWN.

It works.

That's why law enforcement have been staging crackdowns on red light runners not only in Central Minnesota, but across the country.



In St. Cloud, Police Chief Jeff Oxton says his department recently held a stop light enforcement detail on May 1 along the Highway 15 corridor where at least two of those intersections are among the top accident intersections in the state.

Oxton says three marked squad cars and one unmarked spotter conducted enforcement at stop lights. The spotter would witness the violation, then marked squads would be notified by radio of the violation and would stop the vehicle.

This enforcement ended with 15 citations and one arrest for driving under the influence.

"Enforcement efforts of the same type will continue in the future," he says.

The police chief has some advice for us all: "Best advice is to slow down and prepare to stop at yellow lights and not try to speed up to beat the red."

"Also, distracted driving also likely plays a part in drivers not realizing the light they are approaching is about to turn red."

Offbeat adventures: Travel to the coolest hidden wonders in every U.S. state

Fuel your offbeat travel dreams. Stacker found the coolest hidden wonders in all 50 U.S. states (plus D.C.) using data from Atlas Obscura.

[WARNING: Under no circumstances should you enter private or abandoned property. By doing so you risk bodily harm and/or prosecution for trespassing.]

Gallery Credit: Sandi Hemmerlein


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