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Porter's Red-Light Running Research Featured in Ladies' Home Journal Article

An article headlined "Red Light Running" in the August issue of Ladies' Home Journal features the research and advocacy work of Bryan Porter, associate professor of psychology at Old Dominion University.

Porter is an expert on the psychological underpinnings of various dangerous and bad driving habits. But in recent years it has been his red-light running research and his appeals for automatic-camera enforcement at dangerous intersections that have made him a go-to source for media around the world. An article in a Melbourne, Australia, newspaper last year dubbed him an "international expert on red-light running psychology."

The Ladies' Home Journal article, written by Kelly King Alexander, recounts several accidents in the United States in recent years in which red-light runners killed innocent people. According to the Federal Highway Administration, red-light running is responsible for 100,000 crashes a year in this country, 950 deaths and 90,000 injuries. It is the leading cause of fatal crashes in metropolitan areas.

"Everybody's guilty," the magazine's article quotes Porter as saying. "We know it's a problem, we know it's dangerous, but we do it anyway."

The article summarizes Porter's research, beginning with a national survey in 1999 that showed just how common a practice red-light running is. At intersections with a traffic light, someone runs the red light about once every three cycles, the research shows. One interesting note: When drivers have their children or other passengers in the car with them, they are much less likely to run a red light.

Porter's research also has shown that drivers are more likely to run red lights because they are in a hurry than because they are distracted. He also has done studies that show how effective photo enforcement can be, but he has met legislative and judicial resistance from those who believe the practice violates constitutional and privacy rights. (The Virginia General Assembly pulled the plug on a pilot photo-enforcement project two years ago, but it cleared the way last year for more cameras at dangerous intersections. Porter has testified before governmental bodies on several occasions in support of photo enforcement.)

Articles about Porter's work have appeared in newspapers and magazines, and he was interviewed on an NBC News program. "We have been fortunate to work with journalists across the country and world," he said. "These journalists have learned of our work and have given us a platform to highlight our work at ODU, and to educate the public about red-light running."

Later this summer, Porter will serve as chair of the 4th International Conference on Traffic & Transport Psychology in Washington, D.C. "This is a great opportunity for me to convene the leading traffic psychology researchers from around the globe to participate in ICTTP," he said. He will edit the handbook of leading papers presented at the conference.

This article was posted on: July 14, 2008

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