General Law: Stop on Red
In Pennsylvania, the law is straightforward on what motorists are required to do when they approach a red light. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), if there is a steady red light, drivers must stop before the crosswalk or intersection. If there is not a sign indicating no turns, drivers can turn right on red, or left from a one-way street onto another one-way street.
Flashing red lights have the same meaning as a stop sign in Pennsylvania. Drivers must come to a complete stop, and proceed only after making sure that the intersection is clear.
Failure to stop for a red light or a flashing red light is a violation of Pennsylvania’s vehicle code. It will result in three (3) points on your Pennsylvania driver’s license, plus fines and fees. An accumulation of six (6) or more points will result in disciplinary action and a potential license suspension. It can also lead to adverse action with your insurance company, such as an increased premium.
What Does Pennsylvania’s “Ride on Red” Law Allow?
In September 2016, a new red light law went into effect in Pennsylvania. This law allows drivers to go through red lights under certain circumstances. For example, if the red light sensor appears to be broken, or if the traffic light is malfunctioning, drivers can proceed through the light.
This law was created to address the problem of red light sensors that do not detect motorcycles. At times, the weight of motorcycles is insufficient to trigger the sensors under the pavement at intersections. The law was meant to address this issue, and provide a way for motorcyclists to proceed through intersections when the light won’t turn green because of a defect in the way that the sensors operate.
Under the law, motorists cannot simply ignore red lights that are faulty or do not appear to be working properly. Instead, they are required to proceed as they would at a stop sign. They must stop at the light, and check the intersection to determine if it is safe to proceed. If it is, then they can go forward through the intersection.
How the Ride on Red Law Impacts Safety
The passing of this law has sparked concerns that some drivers will use it as an excuse to run red lights. Running red lights is a top cause of accidents in the United States. Given the potential for serious or even deadly accidents when motorists run red lights, this fear may be well-founded.
According to PennDOT, drivers who run red lights are a serious risk to the safety and well-being of Pennsylvanians. In 2016 alone, 808 people were killed due to drivers running red lights. In the same year, an estimated 137,000 people were also injured due to motorists failing to stop at red lights.
The National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) has determined that Philadelphia is the 8th most dangerous city in the country for running red lights. This dubious honor is based on data from 2004 to 2016. The fines from Philadelphia red light violations fund Pennsylvania’s Automated Red Light Enforcement (ARLE) program, which has set up cameras in 421 communities across the state.
Pedestrians and bicyclists are uniquely vulnerable to drivers who fail to stop at red lights. Over half of the deaths involving drivers who run red lights include pedestrians, bicyclists, and occupants in vehicles other than the vehicles that ran the red light. Between 2004 and 2014, roughly 10,111 people were killed in crashes related to running red lights.
Of course, the “ride on red” law is not a free pass to go through intersections with traffic lights without stopping. It specifically requires motorists to stop and check for traffic before carefully proceeding. However, it does not mandate a specific amount of time to wait.
This law has been in effect for over two (2) years now. It remains to be seen how it will impact the overall safety of Pennsylvanians. We do know that with Philadelphia being one of the worst cities in the country for accidents involving drivers running red lights, this type of change to the law has the potential to lead to many more crashes.
Work with a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer
Drivers who run red lights put everyone else on the road at danger of being seriously injured or even killed. Laws that may give drivers a “free pass” to run red lights have the potential to increase this risk. If you have been hurt by a negligent driver who ran a red light, Solnick & Associates is here to help.
With more than 30 years of combined legal experience, our firm is dedicated to helping victims of all types of accidents. We work hard to help you get the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. Call our office today at 215-481-9979, or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyer. We never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.