Signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf in July 2016, Pennsylvania’s new “Ride on Red” Law has brought major changes to the flow of traffic through busy intersections throughout Pennsylvania. Under this new law, drivers can now legally enter an intersection when a traffic light is completely out of operation or malfunctions in such a manner that a red signal never turns green. These changes to the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code took effect on September 18, 2016.
One of the scenarios that prompted these changes to the Vehicle Code was the frequent occurrence of smaller motor vehicles and motorcycles failing to trigger the sensor technology that automatically causes traffic lights to change. State Representative Stephen Bloom, the bill’s author, initially designed the bill to address the plight of motorcyclists being stuck at malfunctioning lights located in rural areas and during late night hours, leaving these motorcyclists stuck at lights for long periods of time before a larger vehicle would arrive and trip the unresponsive light. During the legislative process, however, the bill was amended to include all vehicles within the scope of this new exception.
Although Act 101 does not give motorists the right to run red lights, it does, as Bloom described it, “provide them with a sensible, safe option under established standards already in place for other types of signal malfunctions.” In order to protect fellow motorists in these situations, the Ride on Red Law requires obedience to a multi-step process before entering the intersection. When a driver is stuck facing an unresponsive red light, a motorist must first stop:
- At the stop line;
- At the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection; or
- At the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a clear view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway.
After stopping and inspecting the intersecting roadway, the driver must then yield to any pedestrians in the crosswalk and any vehicle in or approaching the intersection from the intersecting roadway before he or she is permitted to proceed.
But one crucial question remains: how long must a driver must wait at an unresponsive red light before being allowed to proceed? Because of the lack of clarity on this crucial item, is this really a safe option? Are drivers going to be cautious enough to roll through that intersection responsibly, or will this law be abused by drivers and cause frequent accidents?
Unfortunately, only time will tell.
In the event that you have find yourself to be a victim of an accident, including one caused by a driver who didn’t complete all of the required safety steps before “running a red light”, you should turn to the skilled automobile and motorcycle accident lawyers at Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys, a top personal injury firm in PA. Their legal team has extensive experience mitigating the personal and financial losses resulting from auto accidents in PA. Interested parties can call them today at 610-370-6700 or by filling out the contact form on their website.