Did you know that it’s sometimes legal to run a red light?
Of course, Indiana law—and the law everywhere else—requires drivers to stop at intersections that have a red light displayed. But in certain circumstances, drivers are allowed to go through an intersection while a traffic light is red. Laws that make this exception are known as “dead red” laws.
At least twenty states have some form of dead red law.
Indiana’s dead red law [Indiana Code 9-21-3-7(b)(3)(D)], which went into effect on July 1, 2014, covers only motorcycles and bicycles. The law says that a motorcyclist or bicyclist can go through a red light if:
If you’re not a motorcyclist or bicyclist, it may not be immediately apparent what function Indiana’s dead red law serves.
Traffic lights are used to control the flow of vehicles through intersections. Many traffic lights, especially in higher-traffic areas, operate on timers. But in other intersections, especially less-traveled ones, various sensors are used to detect when a vehicle has stopped at an intersection. When the sensor detects a vehicle, the light changes.
Infrared, microwave, and video sensors are mounted on or near the traffic signal. These types of sensors usually detect any vehicle that comes to an intersection, regardless of the vehicle’s size.
But the most common sensor type—an induction loop—sometimes has trouble detecting the presence of smaller vehicles like motorcycles and bicycles. Why?
Induction loop sensors are buried in the roadway, usually at the white line that indicates where cars should stop. The steel that composes a vehicle’s frame causes a change in the magnetic field of the induction loop, triggering the traffic light to change.
The problem is that motorcycles and bicycles often don’t have enough magnetic material in their frames to trigger induction loop sensors. If their motorcycle or bike doesn’t trigger the sensor, a rider may be stuck at a red light indefinitely or until a larger vehicle triggers it.
Indiana’s dead red law gives motorcyclists and bicyclists a way out when they’re stuck at intersections where sensors don’t detect their presence.
There are many different causes of car accidents. Although it’s dangerous to do so, many drivers run stop signs or red lights. Drivers run stop signs and red lights for various reasons, including:
If you’re in an accident caused by another driver running a stop sign or red light, you should take the following steps:
The most common type of crash when someone runs a red light or stop sign is a side-impact crash (sometimes called a T-bone crash), in which one car strikes the side of another car.
Side-impact collisions often result in serious injuries, because cars are typically less protected on the sides. In addition, if a driver causes an accident by running a stop sign or red light, the impact is often at or close to full speed, compounding the danger.
Side-impact collisions can result in virtually any type of car accident injury, from cuts and bruises to broken bones, internal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries.
Running a stop sign or red light is a violation of Indiana’s traffic laws. So, if someone causes an accident by not stopping at a stop sign or red light, it’s fairly clear that they’re at fault.
The challenge is that proving that someone ran a red or blew through a stop sign can be difficult. When someone is supposed to stop at an intersection but doesn’t, they may hit your car, but it’s also possible that you’ll hit their car. As a result, the collision itself may not indicate who’s at fault.
Here are a few ways to protect yourself if a negligent driver runs a stop sign or red light and causes an accident:
So, if you hit a car that ran a stop sign in front of you and are worried that it looks like you caused the accident, take heart. There are multiple ways to prove that you weren’t at fault.
Suppose a motorcyclist or bicyclist crosses an intersection at a red light. A vehicle traveling through the intersection on a green hit the biker.
Can the biker use Indiana’s dead red law to claim they were not at fault? Probably not, but it’s advisable to consult an attorney about such matters.
Although the dead red law allows cyclists to cross an intersection on red in very specific circumstances, a biker is responsible for ensuring that it’s safe to cross the intersection. That responsibility doesn’t fall on a driver passing through at a green light.
If you were injured in an accident caused by a driver running a stop sign or red light, contact the Indiana car accident lawyers of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The attorneys at WKW know the ins and outs of showing who’s at fault in stop sign and red light accidents, and they can provide invaluable help with your insurance claim or lawsuit. Fill out our online contact form for a free case evaluation.
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