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New Law Allowing Motorcycles to ‘Run” Red Lights Now in Effect in WA

New "red light" laws go into effect in WA this week
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

At first glance, you would think they’re the lucky ones!  But there’s more to the law than face value.

As of Monday,  motocycle riders will now be allowed to “run” a red light, if it cycles completely through the other lanes at the intersection without turning green for them.

It’s a product of modern technology and traffic sensors.  The Washington state legislature approved the measure after hearing from hundreds of riders who’ve sat through multiple light changes but their motorcycle failed to trigger the sensor.

The legislation took over a decade to finally pass after first being proposed, and went through various drafts and proposals before being approved.

The new law will allow motorcycles to proceed, with caution, through an intersection if the light doesn’t turn green through a full cycle.  One rider who had testified to the legislative committee earlier this year said he sat  for 15 minutes at a red light in Hanford area rush hour traffic without the light turning green.

Gov. Inslee signed the bill into law in March, with it going into effect this week. A number of states have allowed such legislation, because motorcycles don’t trip the sensors. It largely has to do with the size and bulk of a car, SUV, truck or other vehicle vs. a motorcycle.

Research is apparently in the works to develop sensors that will more accurately detect motorcycles at intersections, but there hasn’t been enough widespread implementation to keep states from passing new “red light” laws.

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