New Law Allows Kentucky Bikers to Run Red Lights

BOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- At the intersection of Route 23 and County Road 1041 in Catlettsburg, Kentucky, Kentucky Motorcycle Association (KMA) member Herb Rice sits on his bike, waiting at a red light for nearly 5 minutes with seemingly no change to green in sight. Finally, he looks both ways and runs the red light.

"Some of them will work really well, some of them don't work at all," Rice said.

If you drive any kind of vehicle, you might be able to relate to those frustrating times when you pull up to a red light that never seems to change.

The sensor isn't detecting you to trigger the light to turn green.

Some of these sensors are looking for the weight of the vehicle while others are detecting the metal.

Often times, motorcycles don't seem to have enough of either to trigger the traffic signals.

"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.

Bikers say they're forced to either wait for a heavier vehicle to come trigger the sensor, or break the law.

"To do it legal you try to wait, but we generally end up running 'em," Hammons said.

But starting this Wednesday, a new traffic law in Kentucky will affect everyone on the road. Motorcycle drivers will be allowed to run red lights.

"Before, if you ran the light, you'd get a citation, go to court and it can turn into a real expense," KMA member Donald "Sly" Green said. "This here is going to ease it up quite a bit."

The law, HB 370, allows bikers to run red lights, but only after doing a couple of things. They have to come to a complete stop, wait for at least two minutes or two lighting cycles, and make sure no other vehicles are crossing the intersection.

"Stop look and listen. Go back to the old saying we learned in school. Stop look and listen before you do it," Sly said. "Make sure you're safe and make sure you don't cause an accident."

One driver sharing the roads with bikers said he can see the good and bad in this law.

"I have mixed feelings about it," Ellerbe said. "From the perspective of a motorcycle driver, I could understand why the law would be a good thing. But then I'm looking at pedestrians and other drivers. You know, are they going to pay attention to the other drivers and pedestrians?"

"We make sure we're safe when we do it so we're not going to be pulling out in front of anybody," Sly said.

Sly said this law is crucial for the safety of motorcyclists. He said being stuck at a red light sets them up to be hit from behind by a distracted driver.

"And killed by sitting, just sitting there," Sly said. "It's a big problem now - very dangerous."

On top of the risk of being hit, he said especially in the summertime, it can be brutally hot sitting in the sun for minutes at a time.

"It can get real hot sitting at those traffic lights on these motorcycles cause they put out a lot of heat," Sly said.

Kentucky is the 15th state to implement this law. The law goes into effect July 15th,

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