KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Priority on Demand and Priority Ambulance are participating in “Stop on Red Week” to encourage drivers to pay attention to traffic signals.

Dennis Rowe with Priority on Demand said the awareness week is not limited to just traffic lights.

“The goal is to make sure that we’re aware of traffic signals of all types, generally all those that indicate stop are red. So when you see that, make sure you’re paying attention, make sure you’re stopping the vehicle in a cautious manner,” he said.

These include traffic lights, stop signs and school bus stop signs.

Rowe said with school starting back in Knox County on Tuesday, drivers need to be more aware. He has seen firsthand what could happen if they are not.

“The worst kind I think I’ve ever seen hit, was on Chapman Highway and a little eight-year-old was coming off the school bus, came around it, traffic appeared to be stopped, a person came around that vehicle and impacted the little girl face on,” he recalled.

Rowe has worked in healthcare for 50 years and got his start as an EMT. He said he had seen it all, but this incident stuck with him.

“That’s a horrible sight even for someone that has seen a lot of these type of things, and still, when I close my eyes, I can see that little girl in the trauma bed at UT being worked on. That’s not something that any of us want to have to see that face as we impact them because it doesn’t go away,” he said.

Now, Rowe is encouraging drivers to always pay attention to all traffic signals.

“One of the keys if you’re coming up on a red light and it’s caution, it’s yellow, then you’ve got to make a decision which is why you have to be paying attention. Do you have space to go through it? Which is the least desirable, or can you stop?” Rowe said.

He continued, “The worst thing you can do is slam on your brakes with a vehicle behind you and cause crashes that could’ve been prevented by paying close enough attention and having the right following distance.”

Rowe added being cautious could save a life.

“There’s tragedy all the way around and paying attention and not breaking the law just because you’re in a panic,” he said.

“Stop on Red Week” starts Aug. 7. According to Priority on Demand, 46,000 people died in “avoidable accidents” in 2022.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.