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What is the Dead Red Law in Indiana?

In 2014, Indiana became the sixteenth state to pass the Dead Red Law. But what is the law about, and is it actually beneficial to the community?

The “Dead Red Law” states that if you are on a motorcycle or a moped that is too light to trip the sensor that changes the light from red to green, the driver is legally allowed to run the red light after waiting a reasonable amount of time.

What are the Provisions of Indiana’s Dead Red Law?

Most intersections in Indiana have sensors embedded in the roadways. This is to determine how and when traffic lights change. These sensors often work by detecting the weight of the vehicles on the road. While we already know that every vehicle must come to a full stop at a red light, the Dead Red Law gives an exception to motorists on lighter vehicles.

Motorcycles, mopeds, and bicycles are considered too light that may not trip the sensors, and this will cause them to get stuck at a red light that won’t change. In an attempt to fix the issue, the lawmakers of Indiana adapted the Dead Red Law, which allows light vehicles to proceed even on a red light.

The terms of the Dead Red Law in Indiana are pretty similar to those of other states that carry identical statutes. According to the Indiana Code, motorcycles, bicycles, and motor-driven cycles can proceed through a steady red light if:

  1. They first come to a full and complete stop at the intersection for at least 120 seconds.
  2. They abide by other Indiana traffic regulations and have determined that proceeding through the intersection is safe.

Before the law was passed, people would just wait for a larger vehicle to trip the sensors so that they could go. Or they would make a right turn by the signal and circle back in the direction they originally intended to go. (Source: Truitt Law Offices)

Is This Law Helpful to the Community?

There are disputes that the Dead Red Law may cause crashes and injuries. But those in favor of the law argue that having lightweight vehicles wait indefinitely is a significant inconvenience and a safety hazard since they are significantly smaller and may not be noticed and is prone to get hit by careless drivers.

On the other hand, motorists applying the Dead Red Law must still be careful and more conscious about their movement. Motorists are at risk of getting injured if they cross the intersection at the wrong moment, eventually leading to injuries. This makes sense as to why people were skeptical about the law in the first place. (Source: Truitt Law Offices)

Did the Dead Red Law Lessen the Number of Crashes?

Due to the fact that the law is relatively new, there is not much data that can tell for sure. Based on the 2019 traffic statistics from the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, there are a total of 879 motorcycle accidents, a third of which occurred at the intersection, with 32 accidents ending in death.

The problem with these values is we are not truly aware of these accidents occurring because they were trying to cross at a dead light or not. Until there are more refined details, there’s no way to quantify if the law indeed reduced accidents or not. (Source: Truitt Law Offices)

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