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Indiana bill would aid motorcyclists at stoplights

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Friday, January 18, 2013 - 4:28 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — A lawmaker who's a motorcycle enthusiast wants to give motorcyclists the right to go through red lights at Indiana intersections in some situations.

Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, said he's co-sponsoring the bill because many stoplights are magnetically triggered and motorcycles sometimes don't trigger them, leaving motorcyclists waiting for lingering red lights to change to green.

"And you sit there, and you sit there and you sit there. And if you obey the law you'll never be able to move until ... a car comes up behind you," said Brown, who's a physician and a motorcycle rider.

He told the Journal & Courier that the sensitivity of stoplight sensors could be increased, but then the lights might change too often.

The bill he's co-sponsoring with Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, would apply to operators of motorcycles, motorized bicycles, motor scooters and bicycles.

Brown said the proposal matches policy already in place in some states and arose from discussions he's had with motorcycle riders who've been stuck at lingering red lights.

Under the bill, motorcyclists would be allowed to proceed through a steady red light if they come to a complete stop for two minutes and make sure it is safe to proceed, essentially treating the red light as if it were a stop sign.

Brown said motorcyclists and bicyclists already are at a disadvantage when it comes to accidents because other drivers don't always see them.

"I want to look at it from a safety standpoint," he said.

Brown said he's not sure how much support the measure will get at the Statehouse.

"It will just depend on how much will law enforcement say, 'Is this a problem?' " he said.

Indiana State Police Capt. David R. Bursten said the agency typically does not comment on pending legislative proposals.

Jay Jackson, executive director of ABATE of Indiana, said the motorcyclist organization supports the legislation. The nonprofit group does safety, educational, charitable and advocacy work.

Jackson said cases of motorcycles getting stranded at unchanging traffic signals are "not infrequent."

"There's been similar legislation passed in a number of states — I think it's up to 16 now — without any sort of unintended consequences arising," he said.