Kentucky OKs red light bill

Kentucky OKs red light bill

Posted by Team Motorcycle on Jun 30th 2016

Riders in the Bluegrass State are seeing green even when the light is red.

The Kentucky General Assembly passed HB 370, a red light bill, that gives riders the right to go through problematic traffic lights.

The opening statement of the law says it will, “establish an affirmative defense for an operator of a motorcycle for a violation of entering or crossing an intersection controlled by a traffic signal against a steady red light; establish criteria for an affirmative defense; provide that the affirmative defense shall not constitute a defense to any other civil or criminal action.”

Kentucky is the 15th state to enact this kind of law. Several other states saw similar bills introduced in their legislatures, but they did not pass. Georgia’s red light bill was vetoed at the last minute by the governor.

Bikers lobbied for the law. The Kentucky Motorcycle Association (KMA) was one of those.

The KMA described the problem. “Red lights, or traffic signals, work two different ways. One, they work on a timer. Most city traffic signals work this way. I want to talk about the other method in which traffic signals work. Copper wires, called loops, are embedded in the pavement create a magnetic field. The loop patterns will vary some, but usually follow the widths of automobiles. When a vehicle pulls on top of the wires, a signal is sent to the controller.”

Whatever sits atop the loops also has to have enough weight to close the circuit. A single biker often doesn’t have enough poundage to make the trigger wires recognize someone is at the light.

"Unless you got a bunch of bikes together and you get a bunch of weight on some of them, they don't trip," KMA member Tim Hammons said. He adds, "To do it legal you try to wait, but we generally end up running 'em."

Mike Shafer, a Kentucky biker lawyer, covered the issue on his blog and supported it. He pointed out it had been introduced twice. He said he expected a fight to get it approved.

A contingent of bikers went to the governor’s office to support the signing.