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Thursday, April 26, 2018

PSA: Bikers can legally run red lights in these states

As many as 15 states in the country now have enacted laws that allow motorcyclists to run red lights.
What this means is that motorcyclists in these states can now cross an intersection even when the light is red, and not be charged with anything.
Currently, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin have such laws. 4 years ago, Nebraska had also proposed a similar bill, but it hasn’t been enacted yet. The status is currently, “indefinitely postponed”.
It may sound bizarre to many readers how motorcyclists can be given such an exception, especially those not outside the US. However, there’s good reason for that. Most traffic lights in these states only go green for a particular lane only when a vehicle on it has been waiting to cross an intersection.
The system uses metal sensors to detect if a vehicle is waiting. However, these sensors are not always very sensitive.
As a result, vehicles like motorcycles and bicycles are often not able to trigger these sensors due to the low volume of metal they have. Consequently, the riders are left with rather impractical options to cross such an intersection.
Either they get off their vehicle and trip the pedestrian crosswalk button, or ask for cars to squeeze through their lane, or simply run the light.
These states recognized this plight of the riders, and officially made it legal to run such lights.
However, most of these states have guidelines in place to prevent misuse. The riders are required to come to a complete stop at such lights, and then proceed into the intersection only when there’s no incoming traffic or pedestrians.
Consequently, the liability in case of an accident at the intersection while a rider is running a red light has been shifted to the rider.

Here are the details about it:

Arkansas – In effect since 2005, state law allows a motorcyclist to proceed with caution, after coming to a full and complete stop, through a red light that fails to detect the bike. (Arkansas Code section 27-52-206)

Idaho – (2006) If a signal fails to operate after one cycle of the traffic light that a motorcyclist may proceed, using due caution and care, after coming to a full and complete stop at the intersection. (Statute 49-802)

Illinois – (2012) Permits a driver of a motorcycles or bicycle facing a red light that fails to change within a reasonable period of time of not less than 120 seconds to proceed after yielding the right-of-way to any oncoming traffic. However, this law doesn’t apply to municipalities of over 2,000,000 people – such as Chicago. (625 ILCS 5/11-306)

Minnesota – (2002) A person operating a bicycle or motorcycle who runs a red light has an affirmative defense if the driver first came to a complete stop, the traffic light stayed red for an unreasonable amount of time and appeared not to detect the vehicle and no motor vehicles or people were approaching the street. (Statute 169.06)

Missouri – (2009) State law tells both motorcyclists and bicyclists that run red lights that they have an affirmative defense if they brought their vehicle to a complete stop, the light was red for an unreasonable time period, and there were no motor vehicle or person approaching. (Statute 304.285)

Nevada – (2013) Those using motorcycles, bicycles, mopeds, and tri-mobiles are allowed to proceed through an intersection with a red light after waiting for two traffic light cycles, and they yield to other vehicle traffic or pedestrians. (Statute 484B.307)

North Carolina – (2007) Motorcyclists are permitted to move cautiously through a steady red light after coming to a complete stop and waiting a minimum of three minutes and if no other vehicle or pedestrians are approaching the intersection. (NCGS 20-158)

Oklahoma – (2010) Motorcycles can proceed cautiously through a steady red light intersection after a making a complete stop and if no other motor vehicle or person is approaching the roadway. (Statute 47-11-202)

South Carolina – (2008) After making a complete stop and waiting for a minimum of 120 seconds, the driver of a motorcycle, moped, or bicycle may treat a steady red light that doesn’t change as a stop sign and proceed with caution. (S.C. Code 56-5-970)

Tennessee – (2003) After coming to a complete stop, motorcyclists and bicyclists may proceed through a steady red light when it is safe to do so. (Tennessee Traffic Control Signals 55-8-110)

Virginia – (2011) Drivers of motorcycles, mopeds, and bicycles may move with caution through non-responsive red lights as long as they yield the right-of-way to others approaching the intersection, and have come to a complete stop for two complete light cycles or 120 seconds, whichever is shorter.(Statute 46-2-833)

Wisconsin – (2006) A motorcycle, moped or bicycle is permitted to run a steady red light after making a complete stop and waiting at least 45 seconds and then yields the right–of-way to any vehicular traffic or pedestrians using the intersection. (Statute 346.37)

Washington – (2015) During the last legislative session, a new section was added to Chapter 46.61 RCW in Washington State that allows the operator of a street legal motorcycle to make a left turn, after stopping at an intersection that is controlled by a triggered traffic control signal, if the device fails to operate after one cycle of the traffic signal. (Amendment to Chapter 46.61 RCW)

Kentucky – (2015) Motorcyclists must come to a complete stop, wait for at least two minutes or two light cycles and make sure no other vehicles are crossing the intersection before proceeding. (HB 370)

Kansas – (2012) Motorcycles may proceed at a non-responsive red light when safe and after a reasonable amount of time. (KS Statutes, Chapter 8, Article 15, Section 8, C4)

What do you think about this step by these states? Let us know in the Comments’ Section below.