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Pennsylvania Red Light Law

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pennsylvania red light lawOn September 18, 2016, Pennsylvania’s red light law was amended.  The bill singed into law, called the “Ride on Red law,” allows any vehicle (truck, car, bicycle, motorcycle, scooter) to go through a red light with caution at an intersection if the traffic signal’s detection system fails to recognize it. The signal should be treated like a stop sign in this situation.  Representative Stephen Bloom of Cumberland County introduced the bill.  This bill was originally advocated by motorcycle and bike organizations such as the Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) about changing the law to address the situation where bikes and motorcycles are stuck at red lights because the light’s sensor fails to trigger the traffic light to change. In some cases, traffic lights depend upon traffic activating sensors under the road that detect when a vehicle has approached the intersection. The weight of the vehicle causes the light to turn. But sensors may not pick up motorcycle and bike traffic; hence the law was passed to hopefully address this problem. However, the law applies to all vehicles, not just motorcycles and bicycles.

Public Safety and the New Red Light Law

Some citizens have expressed public safety concerns about the new red light law in Pennsylvania. Legislators say the new law does not give drivers the ability to just go through a red light whenever they wish. Instead, they expect drivers to use their best judgment when a light may be malfunctioning, and to proceed through the light with appropriate caution. The law states drivers must come to a full stop. If the light is unresponsive, then they can go through it. The law amended the definition of malfunctioning or inoperative signals to include “a signal that uses inductive loop sensors or other automated technology to detect the presence of vehicles that fails to detect a vehicle.”

How Long Do You Have To Wait to Go Through a Red Light?

The law does not say how long drivers must wait before the light is not working or “unresponsive’ under the law. PennDOT and the Pennsylvania State Police encourage people to use common sense. The red light signal has to obviously be not working or malfunctioning, either totally dark or frozen in the red mode (or going through several cycles without giving you a green light).

In many cases, this law will come into play in more rural parts of Pennsylvania and not on the busy city streets of Philadelphia or other urban areas.

Dangers of Running Red Lights

The logic behind the new red light law is sound. But it is possible that more people will now run red lights in the state. If you ever run a red light, you have a higher risk of a serious car accident. Running a red light can cause a dangerous T-bone accident where the side of the vehicle offers limited protection in a violent crash. It is important for drivers to not use the new red light law as an excuse to start running through red lights, or there could be an increase of serious car accidents in the state.

Accidents at intersections are common throughout the US. The Federal Highway Administration states 2.5 million auto crashes happen every year at intersections. This is 40% of all auto crashes in a typical year. Other national statistics suggest as many as 50% of all serious accidents happen at intersections. Also, 165,000 crashes occur because people run red lights.

Talk to a Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney Today

Car accidents caused by running a red light can be severe and life changing. If your car was hit at an intersection because someone ran a red light, you could have serious injuries from which it will take months to recover. Talk to a Philadelphia personal injury attorney to ensure your legal rights are defended. You could be entitled to compensation, so please contact us today.

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