Ride on Red Law
The “Ride on Red” law, officially known as Act 101, was signed into law in Pennsylvania in July 2016 and has been in effect since September of the same year. This law enables drivers to proceed through unresponsive or malfunctioning red lights, but it’s important to exercise caution and common sense while doing so.
Initially, the law was primarily intended for motorcycles and bicycles, which often go undetected by traffic signal weight sensors due to their size and weight. However, it has since been expanded to include all vehicles, including horse and buggies. The inspiration behind this law came from the growing number of drivers experiencing long waits at traffic lights, particularly those driving smaller vehicles. In addition, the problem is more prevalent in rural areas and during late hours when fewer heavy vehicles are on the road.
Representative Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland) played a major role in the introduction of this law. Motorcycle organizations approached him with concerns, prompting him to propose changes. Representative Bloom recognized the widespread nature of the problem and the importance of finding a practical solution that prioritizes safety. It’s crucial to note that the law does not grant drivers the freedom to recklessly disregard traffic signals.
How Does This Work?
If a traffic light is not functioning properly, including when it’s completely unlighted or blinking, drivers should take the following steps:
- If the light is green or yellow, proceed with caution.
- If the light is red or unlighted, treat it as a stop sign. Come to a complete stop, ensure there is no oncoming traffic, and then proceed with the right of way, similar to any other stop sign.
It’s important to remember that the law doesn’t specify a specific waiting time for the light to change. The key is to come to a complete stop, allow the light to cycle through, and grant you a green light. If your turn is skipped, you may proceed. Essentially, treat the malfunctioning light as you would a stop sign.
It’s worth mentioning that this law does not apply to lights on timers that are simply longer than others.
Previously, it was feasible to proceed through an inoperable traffic light, which is indeed true. The recent legislation, however, introduced a provision stating that the same applies to lights equipped with technology such as vehicle sensors. The issue arose when lighter vehicles failed to trigger this technology, causing the light to remain unchanged indefinitely. Now, after a reasonable period of time, cautious drivers can proceed through the intersection.
For those interested in reviewing the law in its entirety, you can find it in the Pennsylvania Code, Title 75, Section 3112, linked here.
So, the next time you encounter a malfunctioning traffic signal, remember to come to a complete stop, exercise caution, and then proceed if the light is truly not functioning properly. Additionally, be sure to report the faulty light to city hall or the local police department.
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