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South Carolina’s Motorcycle Dead Red Light Law

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Motorcyclists, bicyclists and moped riders can all face a common and frustrating scenario when stopped at a red light at a traffic intersection: waiting for many minutes on end for the light to change green.

While it might be a rare case of the light being faulty, more often than not this is due to a sensor failing to recognize the presence of a two-wheeled vehicle because of its relatively small size or light weight.

The motorcycle red light law solves this issue by outlining circumstances when two-wheeled vehicles may safely, and legally, run a red light. At The Louthian Law Firm, our experienced Columbia motorcycle accident lawyers represent clients in and around Columbia, SC, who experience catastrophic accidents due to other motorists failing to respect these dead red laws.

Does South Carolina Have a Motorcycle Red Light Law?

South Carolina has a red light law for motorcycles, sometimes referred to as a “dead red law” or “safe on red law.” This law outlines situations when a motorcyclist, bicyclist or moped rider may proceed through an intersection during a steady red light.

According to South Carolina’s version of the law, the rider must come to a complete stop at a red light and remain there for at least 120 seconds. After this time, the rider may treat the red light as a stop sign. In other words, they must exercise due caution when judging if it is safe to proceed through the intersection.

Other states also have versions of motorcycle red light laws. These include North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Note that each of these states has its own established wait time for motorcycles stopped at a red light and not all of them apply to bicycles.

Why do red lights sometimes never change?

There are times when a traffic light might fail to change colors simply due to mechanical failure or damage. It is the city’s responsibility to correct such issues as quickly as possible, but it can be difficult for motorists of all types to navigate an intersection under these conditions.

More often than not, though, a red light that does not change is likely due to traffic sensors not detecting a smaller vehicle. In some cases, these sensors might extend back far enough to detect multiple vehicles. However, for motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles and other small vehicles waiting at an intersection with no large vehicles behind them, it is possible that a sensor-based traffic light might never change to green.

When Can Motorcycles Run Red Lights Legally in South Carolina?

South Carolina’s motorcycle red light law states that a two-wheeled vehicle must wait two minutes and then exercise due care to proceed through the intersection on red.

However, there is not a single clear explanation for how riders should handle this difficult situation. Judging when it is safe to proceed through an intersection during a red light requires a motorcyclist or moped rider to keep track of which lanes currently have the right-of-way at any given moment and determine when there is enough of a gap in oncoming traffic to move ahead without surprising another motorist in a way that might cause them to react dangerously. In addition, a motorcyclist must deal with the possible stress of knowing that other drivers behind them might be growing impatient while they wait.

It’s ultimately up to the judgment of the individual motorcyclist, bicyclist or moped rider to determine when it is legal to act upon motorcycle red light laws. If an accident happens as you are moving through a red light, our lawyer can help you assert that you were in the right.

How Can South Carolina’s Red Light Law Complicate a Motorcycle Crash?

If a traffic accident occurs when a motorcycle runs a red light, the other driver may try to point at the rider as the at-fault party. While they might have a strong case in any other circumstance, dead red laws can make determining fault less straightforward.

If you are a rider who experiences a motorcycle crash while legally running a red light, you need a personal injury lawyer who can help you prove that you had legal cause to proceed through the intersection when you did. You may have known about South Carolina’s dead red light laws and believed you had a safe route to proceed. Without an attorney to guide you in collecting the right evidence and present the case on your behalf, it can be difficult to prove that you waited the appropriate amount of time at the light and exercised good judgment.

Contact a Columbia Lawyer Who Understands Motorcycle Red Light Laws

If you believe that you or a loved one had the right to go through a red light with care, then you have the right to fight for compensation from the party who is truly at fault for your motorcycle accident.

The motorcycle red light law exists for good reasons, and one of those reasons is to protect a rider’s rights when they legally pass through an intersection on red. Contact The Louthian Law Firm today by calling 803-592-6231 or reach out to us online to learn more about how we can help you reach a favorable outcome.

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