Proposed legislation could make it legal for bikers to run red lights

Lawton_If you run a red light, the chances are you will get a ticket.  However, some Oklahoma state lawmakers are trying to change that for motorcycle drivers.  They want motorcyclists to be able to go through red lights on intersections where the lights are on sensors.  They say too often the traffic light sensors don't recognize motorcycles because of their weight, which sometimes forces drivers to wait at the intersection for several minutes until a car comes along - the sensor finally gives them the green light to proceed.  Some motorcyclists say this happens depending upon the size of the bike, and agree that the bill isn't a bad idea.  Police say they don't see any problems either - unless there's a wreck.

For drivers in cars, sensored lights usually are a blessing since they mean less time waiting at a red light.  Many motorcycle drivers - such as Bob Smith who owns two Harleys - say they often must wait longer.  "The Ultra will trip the sensors, but the Sportster is light," he said.  "A lot of times I've had to wave cars up on to the sensor to trip the light, otherwise it would just sit there red the entire time."

Under the proposal, motorcyclists would have to approach a sensored signal, stop completely on red, and if all cross traffic was clear, could safely run the light.  "People will sit there for quite sometime because the light wouldn't change," said Lawton Police Chief Ronnie Smith.  "I've seen it happen a few times with motor vehicles - not just motorcycles."

Police say they don't see too many problems with the bill, but say there could be some risk involved.  "The only time there might be a problem is if that guy sitting there at that red light, and a car is coming, and he pulls out and he gets hit - he's got a red light," said Smith.  "Then did he have the right of way or didn't he have the right of way?  I don't think he did."

Another problem could occur if drivers decide to run red lights on time controlled traffic signals.  Lawton has a lot of traffic signals that are time controlled, and the proposal says that's not acceptable.  "If a person gets a ticket for running a red light, and he says, 'Well I thought it was on a sensor, and it wasn't,' that's not going to be an excuse," said Smith.  "Him thinking it was on a sensor is not an excuse."

But, how does a driver know if a signal is on a sensor or a timer?  Motorcycle drivers say they can usually see grooves cut into the pavement where sensors have been installed.  Some cities use visual sensors installed near traffic lights themselves.

Count on 7News to keep you updated on the proposed legislation.