Many states green-light red-light laws for motorcycles

Several states have passed laws allowing motorcyclists to go through red lights after a “reasonable period of time.” The safety experts of MotorEagles® want you to be safe if you are taking advantage of these laws.

Did you know that sometimes red means go for motorcyclists?

If you are an avid motorcyclist, you’ve probably been there. Waiting at a remote intersection for what seems like forever, wondering if that red light will ever change. In some states, your wait is over, or at least shorter. Earlier this year, Illinois joined 11 other states in allowing motorcyclists to go through red lights when sensors aren’t able to detect they are there.

At many remote intersections, stop lights are programmed to remain red in one direction unless an underground sensor is activated indicating a vehicle is waiting for a green light. Whenever a vehicle crosses over one of the magnetic sensors, it interrupts the magnetic field and sends a signal to the controller that lets it know a vehicle is on the pavement. The problem arises because motorcycles do not have enough metal in them to interrupt the field, which means that the red lights are not changing green when a bike comes to the intersection.

The 12 states with laws are:

  • Minnesota
  • Tennessee
  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Wisconsin
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Missouri
  • Oklahoma
  • Virginia
  • Kansas
  • Illinois

In most of these states, the law is written so that a motorcyclist may proceed with caution through an intersection once they have waited “a reasonable period of time” and the light still has not changed.

In the past, some cyclists would motion for a vehicle behind them to pull forward to activate the signal. However, this could put the motorcyclist in danger, forcing them to pull to far forward into the intersection. The only other choice they had was to eventually just pull out while the light was still red and hope they didn’t receive a ticket if a police officer happened to see them.

The key phrase in the law is “with caution.” Most law enforcement personnel encourage motorcyclists to wait two minutes before you go, just to make sure the light isn’t going to change. The laws are not intended to give you an excuse to blow through a red light without even stopping and looking. But it is intended to make those situations safer for you.

These new laws are a positive step for motorcyclist safety and acceptance. We hope even more states consider passing similar laws.

The motorcycle safety team at MotorEagles encourages you to always use good judgment when riding. If you live in a state that allows you to proceed with caution after a reasonable amount of time, be sure you treat it like a stop sign once you decide to go. As always, don’t pull out unless you are sure you can do so safely.

But even if you do follow the laws and ride cautiously, there is no guarantee you will not be injured while riding. If you or a loved one is injured in a motorcycle collision, contact a local injury lawyer or the motorcycle accident attorneys at Elk & Elk.

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