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Published on Friday, March 22, 2013

Allowing motorcyclists to run red lights?

SB 5141, sponsored by Sen. Curtis King (R-Yakima), was heard in the House Transportation Committee on Wednesday, March 20. The bill would allow motorcycles to proceed through traffic signals after coming to a complete stop and waiting for the signal to go through a full cycle. The proponents testified that traffic signals are frequently not set to detect motorcycles and that they either have to sit at a light forever, make unsafe maneuvers, or risk getting a ticket for proceeding through the light.

AWC and the Washington State Patrol testified in opposition to the bill citing public safety, liability, and enforcement concerns. There are also existing systems to address the issues raised by the proponents. Since 2009, state law has required that vehicle-activated traffic control signals “routinely and reliably” detect bicycles and motorcycles and that detection areas be clearly marked. Additionally, jurisdictions are required to have procedures for filing complaints when a sensor is not operating correctly. Our understanding is that most jurisdictions do not receive many of these complaints.

This bill has passed the Senate and its companion was passed out of the House Transportation Committee. If you have concerns about this bill, please contact your legislators and members of the House Transportation Committee.