It's a law you might not have heard of, and it allows motorcycles to run red lights under certain conditions.
Some people call it the “Dead Red Law.”
“You do get some looks, and you really need to exercise caution because you are leaving a red light into a green zone,” Frank “Hiway” Murphy said.
Murphy has been riding motorcycles for years, but he said he had never heard of the law until one day it applied to him.
“I was stuck at a red light, and I waited until the other lights went through several changes, several changes, and I did not want to chance a ticket, and a local law officer pulled up and informed me that it was ok to go,” Murphy said.
Older stoplights have sensors in the ground that are activated by weight, but sometimes motorcycles aren't heavy enough. The “Dead Red Law” allows bikers to treat it as a stop sign if the light stays red.
“It's kind of rider beware,” Sgt. Daniel Grubbs with the Fort Smith Police Department said. “You can't use this as a, 'I've sat here five seconds, the lights not changing, it looks like it's clear. I'm going to proceed through.’ If you get hit, that's going to be on you.”
Grubbs said many stoplights now have heat or motion sensors, so these situations don't happen often, but when they do, he said it's not an excuse to abuse the law.
“The light is just not reacting to me, so it allows you to go, which within reason and common sense, but there's also the reason, you can't use that as an excuse of being impatient and just going through and intersection,” Grubbs said.
Murphy said the law isn't well known even among bikers, but he wants to spread the word to keep people safe.
“They're not yielding to you,” Murphy said. “You have responsibility to clear your path.”
The law also applies to bicycles and was enacted in 2014 by these states:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina