motorcycles running red lights lawIntersections are notoriously dangerous places for motorcyclists to hang out. Yet traffic light sensors don’t always detect lone motorcycles. As a result, motorcyclists can find themselves stranded for an eternity waiting for a car to come along a trigger the sensor. As a result, many motorcyclists simply run the red light—and sometimes they have the law on their side.

Many states have statutes in place that say motorcyclists and bicyclists can go through red lights if they believe that these traffic signals are not picking up their presence. While each state addresses this issue slightly differently, they all include basic rules for running a red light. Motorcyclists must wait for a predetermined amount of time before crossing the intersection and ONLY if the intersection is free of cross traffic.

In Wisconsin, for example, a 2006 statue protects motorcyclists—provided they wait a minimum of 45 seconds for the light to turn green. In Illinois, a motorcyclist must wait 120 seconds before attempting to run a red light and only in municipalities with fewer than 2 million people—so Chicago motorcyclists are not allowed to run these lights. Similar laws have been enacted across the United States in such states as North Carolina, Tennessee, Minnesota, Arkansas, and Idaho.

Unfortunately, many motorcyclists and even police officers are not aware of these laws. Before you run the next red light, however, check your local and state motorcycle laws to be sure you understand them fully. For added security, print a copy of your state statute and carry it in your wallet. This may come in handy if you are ever pulled over for running a red light. After all, knowledge is power. It is always best to know your rights and the laws that pertain to motorcycling.

Some states are moving towards more sensitive traffic signals that can detect motorcyclists and bicyclists at the intersections. These have already been implemented throughout California with much success.

Riding and Protecting Those Who Ride – Russ Brown Law


At Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys®, we share these traffic frustrations because we are bikers too. We also know how dangerous it can be for motorcyclists who are stranded at intersections. Cars and trucks often rear-end unsuspecting motorcyclists at these intersections and without warning. As such, we fight aggressively for all bikers who are injured by negligent motorists.

To learn more about our law firm or to schedule a free consultation—call us at 1-800-4-BIKERS today or visit us on the web at www.russbrown.com. We Ride—We Care—We Win!