County installs new feature to reduce danger of drivers running red lights

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Public Works Department  • Richard H. Hansen Transportation & Public Works Complex
4787 Midway Road, Duluth, MN 55811 • Phone: (218) 625-3830

James T. Foldesi, P.E.
Public Works Director/Highway Engineer



August 10, 2017

MEDIA CONTACT: Victor Lund, Traffic Engineer


Blue lights installed at 14 intersections to cut down on motorists running red lights 

In Duluth, Hermantown and across the state, the majority of serious and fatal crashes occur at four-way intersections with traffic signals; and the most frequent serious crashes at these intersections are right-angle crashes caused by someone running a red light.

St. Louis County has installed a new tool to help make these intersections safer, as part of its ongoing commitment to traffic safety and the Toward Zero Deaths initiative. Blue lights have been added to the signal posts at 14 locations where either two county roads, or a county road and city street intersect.

The blue light is synchronized with the traffic signal so that it shines at the same time as when the traffic signal shows red. This will assist a law enforcement officer at the scene who can use the blue light to determine if a motorist ran a red light. It reduces costs for law enforcement by requiring only one officer at the intersection rather than two as was previously needed.

The blue lights should not be confused with cameras or any other recording device, or automated ticketing for red light violations. As is already the case, an officer must be present to observe the red light violation in order to issue a ticket.

In applying for federal funds to help cover the cost of the lights, Public Works received letters of support from the Duluth and Hermantown Police Departments, the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota State Patrol.


"This is about safety," said Vic Lund, St. Louis County Traffic Engineer. "For people driving within city limits, their biggest risk for being seriously injured or killed in a traffic crash is at a traffic signal due to a person running a red light. Our goal is not to see more tickets issued, but rather to reinforce responsible and safe driving practices. It's not okay to run a red light."

The cost to install the blue lights and supporting equipment is $2,800 per intersection. Federal Highway Safety funds covered 90-percent of the price for this investment in public safety.

Blue light on signal
The intersection of Maple Grove and Burning Tree Roads in Duluth is one of 14 in the county that now has a blue light - a tool aimed at reducing serious accidents caused by drivers running red lights.

Blue light map
Blue lights have been installed at 14 intersections in Duluth and Hermantown to aid law enforcement and remind motorists to not run red lights.