“Ride on Red” Law Designed to Help Keep Pennsylvania Motorcyclists and Motorists Safe
A new Pennsylvania law went into effect last month and allows drivers to go through some red lights without a penalty. Termed the “Ride on Red” law, the intention was to allow drivers to proceed through a red light if the light is malfunctioning or unresponsive. While the law affects all drivers, it was originally intended for motorcyclists because their vehicles are typically not heavy enough to trigger the sensors for traffic lights. The law seeks to resolve what is a safety hazard for traffic generally.
Act 101 provides that drivers may drive through red lights, provided they use common sense and caution. This means that if a driver suspects a traffic light is not functioning properly, they must first fully stop to assess the situation. Then, they can proceed through the intersection if it is clear of other motorists.
The practical problem addressed by the legislation was to address a lengthy wait time for drivers positioned at a faulty or malfunctioning light. Smaller vehicles are especially prone to this issue, since the weight of their vehicle will not always trigger the sensors in the roadway.
Some traffic lights are timed, and others are demand-actuated. Timed lights cycle through at fixed intervals. Demand-actuated traffic signals detect the presence of vehicles and cycle based on the number of vehicles that are attempting to cross the light. Many of the sensors are calibrated to detect trucks and cars but not necessarily lighter vehicles.
All drivers who decide to proceed through a red light are required to exercise due care. Legally, this means they must proceed if a reasonable person would proceed under similar circumstances. Additionally, the law only applies to broken lights, or those that are malfunctioning. Drivers do not have a pass to proceed through any red light.
Motorcycle safety groups have said that the law may help prevent riders from being rear-ended. This is a common occurrence when crashes take place near intersections with broken lights. According to supporters, Act 101 places riders in charge of their own safety. Motorcyclists no longer have to wait for another vehicle to help them trigger the light, or maneuver around multiple lanes of traffic in order to get to their destination.
Critics of the law see it as a “free pass” to run a red light. Some motorcyclists also see it as unnecessarily risky.
At Needle Firm, we represent people hurt in motorcycle and other motor vehicle accidents. If you or a loved one is facing the devastating consequences that follow a motor vehicle collision, the skilled motorcycle accident attorneys at Needle Law can advocate on your behalf. Our attorneys have decades of combined experience successfully securing compensation for people throughout Pennsylvania. We provide a complimentary consultation and can help you understand your legal rights and obligations. Call us at (570) 344-1266 or contact us through our online form.