New KY law permits bikers, cyclists to pass through red lights

KENTUCKY (KFVS) - A new Kentucky law, which took effect Wednesday,establishes an affirmative defense for an operator of a motorcycle to drive through a red light.

Kentucky is the 15th state to implement this law.

The law was passed in an attempt to keep motorcyclists from being struck from behind, or struck while waiting for a light to change.

Most times at such accidents the driver claims he didn't see the motorcycle.

The law, HB370, amends the current law for motorcyclists facing a steady red light to be able to proceed under the following conditions:

  • The motorcycle was brought to a complete stop
  • The traffic light continued to show a steady red light for two full minutes, or the traffic light at the intersection has completed two lighting cycles
  • The traffic light signal or mechanisms appeared to be malfunctioning
  • No car or person was approaching on the street or highway to be crossed or entered, or any approaching person or car was so far away from the intersection that it did not constitute an immediate hazard

The affirmative defense signed into law will only apply to a violation for entering or crossing an intersection controlled by a traffic light against a steady red light and does not provide a defense to any other civil or criminal action.

Similar laws have been enacted in other states in the Heartland.

In Illinois, a law was passed in 2012 that allows motorcyclists or bicyclists to proceed at a red light that doesn't change for 2 minutes, and only after yielding the right-of-way to any oncoming traffic.

The law doesn't apply to cities of over 2,000,000 people, such as Chicago.

In Missouri, a 2009 state law allows both motorcyclists and bicyclists to run red lights if they first bring their vehicle to a complete stop, the light was red for an unreasonable time period, and there were no cars or people approaching.

In Tennessee, a 2003 law allows motorcyclists and bicyclists to proceed through a steady red light when it is safe to do so, after coming to a complete stop.

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