Act 101, more commonly known as Pennsylvania’s co-called “Ride on Red” law, went into effect on September 18. The law allows motorists in all types of vehicles to proceed through red lights if traffic-control signals are out of operation or are not functioning properly.
The legislation was sponsored by Representative Stephen Bloom of Cumberland County, who sought to change the law after being approached by motorcycle organizations that wanted solutions to situations in which bikes failed to trigger traffic lights to change, according to The Patriot-News. While the bill was originally designed specifically for motorcycles, it was ultimately expanded to apply to all vehicles.
“This law does not give drivers a free pass, but ensures a safe and legal option to avoid the danger and inconvenience of being trapped in perpetuity at a locked red light,” Bloom said, according to The Patriot-News. “This issue is more common than many people realize, especially on rural roads and during late hours when long periods often elapse before a heavier vehicle comes along to finally trip the unresponsive light.”
In applicable situations, motorists are expected to treat red lights like stop signs and proceed with caution. While the law is intended to apply only to broken or malfunctioning lights, there is some understandable concern that some more impatient drivers may use the law to pass through any red lights they believe are taking too long to change.
Red Light Crashes in West Chester, PA
The new law does not specifically state how long motorists must wait before proceeding through red lights. The people who are expected to benefit the most are drivers in rural parts of the state with less traffic, but it remains to be seen how often motorists in busier more urban areas might use the belief of a red light being out of operation or not functioning properly as a defense against any tickets for running a red light.
More importantly, allowing more drivers to pass through red lights could increase the chances of motor vehicle accidents. According to the National Coalition for Safer Roads, more than 3.7 million drivers in the United States ran a red light in 2014. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says 709 people were killed and an estimated 126,000 were injured in crashes that involved red light running that same year.
Drivers who rush to get through red lights can be at risk of causing catastrophic crashes that result in serious injuries for all people involved. Oncoming drivers may be powerless to avoid collisions that can result in broken bones, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), or death.
The Ride on Red law certainly comes as a relief to many motorcyclists who have been stuck at unresponsive lights, but drivers of other types of vehicles still need to be especially cautious in deciding to proceed at intersections in which they believe a traffic signal may be out of operation or not functioning properly. In virtually every case, it is far safer for a motorist to simply wait for a light to change than attempting to turn into or pass through an intersection where the light is red.
If you suffered serious injuries or your loved one was killed in any kind of automobile accident in which a negligent driver ran a red light, it will be critical for you to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Contact an experienced West Chester personal injury lawyer today to get a free review your case that will help you understand what compensation you might be entitled to for any medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.