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As a motorcycle rider, you may face challenges with the traffic light system when driving on Louisiana roads. Red lights connect to sensors in the road. The weight of cars and trucks triggers the sensors, causing the lights to change. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average motorcycle weighs 700 pounds, compared to the 4,000+ pounds that the average full-size car weighs. This makes motorcycles too light to trigger the sensors at a stop light.

In this situation, you may find yourself waiting indefinitely for the light to turn green and choose to run the red light. It’s essential to understand your options at a stuck red light, whether running the light is legal, and what can happen if you’re involved in an accident when going through an intersection while the light is red.

How Traffic Lights Work and Why They Get Stuck on Red

Traffic lights at intersections on American roads have been fitted with adaptive traffic control systems (ATCS) since the 1960s.

Most ATCS systems in the U.S. employ closed induction-loop circuits to detect whether a vehicle has pulled up to the intersection, and direct traffic accordingly, changing red lights into green at safe intervals. Induction-loop circuits are sensors that allow a traffic light system to detect when a car has pulled into an intersection using a magnetic field. When a vehicle drives over them, the system knows a vehicle is there, changing the lights to match the flow of traffic in each direction.

However, these systems are known for their varying levels of sensitivity. While they work well with cars, trucks, and larger vehicles, motorcycles frequently fail to trip the sensor, resulting in riders remaining stuck at red lights.

What to Do When Stuck at a Red Light

If you are a motorcycle rider stuck at a red light, you may approach the situation in several ways.

  • You may wait for another car or truck to pull up behind you and ask them to drive over the sensor.
  • You can also try repositioning your bike until it is closer to the more sensitive edges of a loop to trigger the light.
  • When possible, you may take an alternate route. For instance, you might turn right on the right light to use another route or turn around to approach the intersection from a different direction.

Is Running a Red Light Legal in Louisiana?

Although multiple states have passed “dead red” laws allowing motorcycle riders to run a red light under specific circumstances, Louisiana has not enacted a similar statute.

It is not legal for any vehicle to run a red light in Louisiana except to enter the intersection cautiously to turn right or onto a one-way street on the left. Louisiana law recommends exercising caution in all cases, as cross-traffic still has the right of way. If you move through a red-light intersection at a dead red light, you technically violate the state’s traffic laws and can be pulled over and ticketed.

When this happens, you may offer a defense by explaining to the officer how long you waited and other methods you tried before going through the traffic light. Ultimately, it is up to the officer to decide whether to move forward with the traffic violation citation.

Our law firm does not take criminal traffic violation cases, so we cannot help you contest a ticket for running a red light on your motorcycle. However, we can help protect your rights to compensation if you are injured at an intersection by a negligent driver.

What Happens If You Are Injured at an Intersection?

If you suffer injuries due to a collision at a red-light intersection, it’s helpful to understand who is likely at fault. If another vehicle runs a red light and collides with you, they are at fault for the crash and may be responsible for your injuries. However, if you run a red light, even if you were on a motorcycle and the light wasn’t changing, you may be liable for any collision since you broke the law. 

Contact our team of Louisiana motorcycle crash lawyers at Dudley DeBosier as soon as possible after a collision to learn your legal options. We can help you gather and organize evidence, such as traffic camera footage or witness statements, to help you file a claim. The other driver may bear more negligence than you for the crash, if, for example, if they were speeding or driving distracted or impaired.

Our motorcycle crash lawyers can help you stand up for your rights and take reasonable measures to receive a fair settlement for injuries incurred in an accident you didn’t cause.

Call Dudley DeBosier’s Personal Injury Lawyers Today

Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers is proud to serve the motorcycle rider community of Louisiana and represent the rights of injured riders in traffic accident cases.

We have partnered with Orange County Choppers to launch the Back Off My Bike initiative, letting negligent drivers and insurance companies know we won’t back down when it comes to representing injured motorcycle riders.

Contact us today for a free case review and learn how our experienced team can help you.

This content has been reviewed by Chad Lederman, Director of Legal Operations at our New Orleans office.

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