By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune staff writer
Anyone who drives a vehicle has sat frustrated waiting for a red light to change. For motorcyclists and other riders of two-wheel vehicles, the wait can be even more frustrating.
That’s because most traffic signals change when a weight sensor is activated, the motorcycles and scooters don’t have enough weight to trip the sensor and change the light.
The legislation which has been introduced by Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-30th District, authorizes the operator of a motorcycle, motorized bicycle, motor scooter or bicycle to proceed through the red light if they wait 120 seconds. The law requires the operators to yield the right-of-way to other traffic and use caution when proceeding through an intersection.
The bill has been assigned to the Roads and Transportation Committee of the Indiana House where Karickhoff hopes it will receive a hearing before the end of the month.
Karickhoff said ABATE of Indiana is in support of the legislation and the Indiana Department of Transportation is neutral on the bill.
He said several other states have already adopted similar legislation.
Howard County Sheriff Steve Rogers said he was glad the legislation has the 120-second time frame included.
Rogers said he was concerned about the civil aspects of the legislation if an accident should take place would the state prosecute the other driver.
He said before driving through a red light the riders should use all the precautions, such as checking all lanes of approaching traffic.
Rogers said he is concerned about how a police agency would legally charge a rider with disobeying a traffic signal.
Another concern was if a motorcycle goes through a red light after waiting 120 seconds and a driver in a car does the same thing, would they receive a citation, Rogers said.
Steve Luce, executive director of the Indiana Sheriff’s Association agreed that the new law would be difficult to enforce.
“This would be difficult to enforce and very hard to decide when a violation occurs,” Luce said. “We do recognize there are many who use bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles as a means of their transportation. This type of traffic situation has not been reported to the association as a problem.”
Illinois passed similar legislation that took effect on Jan. 1, 2012, but excludes the city of Chicago.
Greg Sullivan, executive director of the Illinois Sheriff’s Association, said the Illinois law allows a rider to proceed through a red light after waiting a reasonable about of time.
He said the bill was vetoed by the governor, who wanted a 120-second time frame. The Illinois legislature overrode the veto.
“We didn’t take a position on the bill,” Sullivan said. “We don’t know if it will help or hurt anybody. Our position was it won’t create a huge problem.”
Sullivan said he has not heard of any problems as a result of the passage of the legislation.