Running Red

By: Alana Adams
By: Alana Adams

When the light turns green, you might be like most people and wait just a couple seconds before going forward to make sure no one is trying to beat the light.

A proposed bill could change state law increasing the fine from $60 to $125.

Commander Tom McCarthy with the Panama City Police Department says their officers would prefer to prevent an accident before it happens.

"It is an educational process. Our determination is to educate and eliminate, where we can anyway, traffic crashes and traffic fatalities."

The state isn't the only one watching your driving record. Insurance companies keep track of bad driving habits, especially repeat offenders, but safe drivers beware.

Trey Hutt with Hutt Insurance Agency says one ticket could smudge your perfect record.

"Usually they've got some fairly good discounts built up for being a safe driver and they'll usually lose all or part of these. For drivers that may be prone to run a red light, and I think we've all tried to beat a yellow light on occasion, the larger problem is if you get in an accident."

It's those very same crashes that could cause the worst injuries.

Dave Coughlin, the emergency room director at Gulf Coast Medical Center, says if the patient is really critical, they have to be stabilized and taken to a trauma center. Those same trauma centers would get a portion from the higher fines in the proposed bill.

The bill would raise about $14 million annually and is backed by a group of 21 hospital trauma centers around the state. The struggling centers would like help to offset the multi-million dollar expense to treat patients.

"The average car insurance typically has about $10,000 worth of car insurance. That sometimes in wiped out in the ER, particularly with trauma centers. Most of these hospitals lose a lot of money on the trauma victims that come in."

Many hope changing the law will be the reminder needed to encourage people to think twice before running red.


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