In March of 2014, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed House Bill 1080, making Indiana the 16th state that allows people who are riding motorcycles, motorized bicycles, scooters, and bicycles to treat red lights as stop signs under certain circumstances. The law, which took effect on July 1st of this year, is found at Indiana Code § 9-21-3-7(b)(3)(D) and is commonly referred to as the “dead red” law. Under the law, riders of these vehicles are allowed to proceed through a red light if they stop for two minutes and it is safe to do so.
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The law is intended to deal with traffic lights that do not change unless triggered by the mass of a larger vehicle. As explained in a press release by bill author State Representative Mike Karickhoff (R), “When the signal isn’t triggered, that leaves the motorcyclist with the choice of, one, disregarding the signal anyhow, two, waiting for a car to pull up behind them and get on the scale. Then the motorcyclist has to pull their wheel out into the intersection to make room for that car. Or, they can make a right turn and drive a mile or so out of their way until they can turn and go back the other way.”
New Law may Create Potential Dangers for Both Riders and Drivers
While the new law will likely ease the frustrations of many riders, it may also create dangerous scenarios that could result in serious accidents. The law relies on the judgment of individuals to determine whether it is safe to proceed, and people can make mistakes. It is not difficult to imagine a scenario in which a motorcyclist or bicyclist misjudges the speed of an oncoming vehicle and causes a serious accident. On the other hand, speeding vehicles that are approaching intersections with green lights are less likely to slow down or watch for other vehicles as they have the right of way.
When motor vehicle accidents occur, victims can often recover for their injuries and other losses if they can establish that their accident was caused by the negligence of another. In cases that implicate the dead red law, negligence may be hotly contested, as a cyclist or driver may both claim that their actions were reasonable under the circumstances. Consequently, a skilled attorney can have a significant impact cases in which these issues arise. The types of damages that are often available in an Indiana personal injury case arising from a motor vehicle accident include:
Past and future medical expenses