Georgia lawmakers pass “dead red” law

Earlier this month, the Georgia General Assemby passed Senate Bill 76, the “Motorcycle Mobility Safety Act,” which details 

“the safe operation of a motorcycle or bicycle through an inoperative traffic-control signal.”

This legislation, often referred to as a “dead red” law, describes the conditions under which a person on a bicycle may carefully ride through a red traffic signal. The exact language from the bill is below in italics.

In layman’s terms, this law states that you may cautiously ride through a red light if you have waited a “reasonable” amount of time and have determined that the light will not change due to the small size of your vehicle (motorcycle or bicycle). The law goes on to state that if you are involved in a crash as result of riding through a red light, the crash is evidence in and of itself that you did not exercise the necessary caution.

Many traffic lights in Georgia are not calibrated to detect people on bikes (or motorcycles). Hopefully, as traffic engineers correct the settings, the need to ride through a red light will no longer be an issue. In the meantime, SB 76 is a common sense recognition that much of our transportation infrastructure only accomodates cars and trucks, though many additional types of users are acessing the same public right of way.

This “dead red” bill allows people to lawfully make a careful, sensible decision when they encounter a non-responsive traffic light.

For more about “dead red” laws, visit the League of American Bicyclists’ “Bike Law University.”

For additional context, we recommend this 2012 article from language from SB 76If a driver has stopped pursuant to the instructions of a traffic-control device and has a reasonable belief that the traffic-control device or signal is inoperative due to the lightweight design of his or her motorcycle or bicycle, the driver may disregard or disobey the instructions of the traffic-control device or signal and proceed through the intersection, provided that:(A) There is no other motor vehicle within 500 feet approaching or entering the same intersection from a different highway, or from the same highway approaching or entering the intersection from the opposite direction; and(B) The driver cautiously proceeds through the intersection with reasonable care and consideration for all other applicable rules of the road. Nothing in this paragraph shall restrict the permissibility of a driver to make a right turn as provided for in paragraph (3) of subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-21.(3) A driver who acts or purports to act pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection shall maintain the burden of proving that he or she acted in accordance with paragraph (2) of this subsection. Such driver’s cause or proximate cause of an accident while acting or purporting to act pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection shall be prima-facie evidence that such driver did not exercise the requisite level of caution, care, or consideration required for compliance with the law.(4) As used in this subsection, the term ‘reasonable belief’ means the belief of a reasonable person in consideration of the conditions of his or her stop, including but not limited to the number of seconds he or she has been stopped or the number of signal changes he or she has observed of the traffic-control device or signal which did not include a change of instruction to him or her.”