New Red Light Law Takes Effect in Pennsylvania

A new red light law took effect in Pennsylvania in 2016, but some people are still learning about it. The “Ride on Red” law was initially designed to help motorcyclists stuck at red lights that would not change. However, the law was expanded to include all vehicles before it was passed and signed into law. If you’re a driver in Philadelphia, here’s what you need to know.

What is the Ride on Red Law?

The Ride on Red law went into effect on September 18, 2016. Drivers would no longer be “stuck” at red lights that refused to change. Instead of waiting long minutes for a green light, a driver could proceed through the intersection.

Unresponsive red lights are a problem, especially for motorcyclists and bicyclists. When a motorcyclist or bicyclist is at a red light with no other traffic at the intersection, the vehicle may not be heavy enough to trigger the sensor underneath the road to cause the traffic light to change. Therefore, the rider sits at the red light until another vehicle appears to trigger the change to a green light.

When a traffic light fails to change from red to green, the driver may treat the red light as a stop sign. The driver must come to a full stop and wait for the light to change. If the light fails to change, the driver may proceed through the intersection if there is no oncoming traffic.

The Ride on Red law is not a free pass. The driver must use caution when proceeding through the intersection.

The law is only intended to be used when a traffic signal malfunctions or is unresponsive. In rural areas and during the night when traffic is very light, the red light law can be beneficial.

Drivers are Responsible for Causing Accidents

The Ride on Red law does not release a driver from the duty of care to avoid an accident. Drivers have a duty of care to operate vehicles safely to avoid accidents. Even though a law might give a driver the right to proceed through a red light in some instances, that law does not relieve the duty of care.

The duty of care requires the driver to use caution and reasonable judgment when proceeding through the intersection. If a driver fails to ensure that no other vehicles are approaching the intersection, that driver can be liable for damages caused by an accident.

Damages that may be included in a red light crash claim are:

  • The cost of medical treatment and personal care;
  • Loss of income, including future wages and loss of earning potential;
  • Emotional distress and physical pain;
  • Disabilities and impairments; and,
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

The value of a car accident claim can be difficult to calculate. A car accident lawyer bases economic damages on actual financial losses. However, noneconomic or “pain and suffering” damages are subjective.

Your lawyer uses the facts in your case to build a strong narrative to demonstrate the severity of your suffering and pain. Keeping a journal detailing your daily pain level and how your injuries have impacted your daily activities and relationships with family and friends can help increase the value of your car accident claim.

Recent Red Light News in Pennsylvania

More recently, Governor Tom Wolf announced the distribution of red light enforcement funds. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will distribute $15.4 million in funds to 38 municipalities throughout the state.

The Automated Red Light Enforcement (ARLE) program is intended to help improve safety at signalized intersections. The projects improve safety by providing automated enforcement at intersections with high rates of red-light running.

PennDOT has several programs and initiatives to make intersections safer through the state through traffic signal management. Intersections are a common location for traffic accidents. The state seeks to reduce the number of traffic accidents by improving the flow of traffic and making intersections safer.

Common Traffic Accidents at Intersections in Pennsylvania

Failure to yield accidents and rear-end crashes are two of the most common types of traffic accidents that occur at intersections.

A failure to yield accident can occur if a driver turns left in front of another driver who has the right of way. However, that is not the only cause of a failure to yield the right of way accident. A driver may run a red light causing a crash or turn right on red, thereby causing a crash.

Rear-end crashes at red lights are generally caused when a driver is tailgating or following too closely. However, distracted driving is another common cause of rear-end crashes. In either case, the driver in the rear vehicle is typically liable for causing the accident.


Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC
123 S Broad St #1220
Philadelphia, PA 19109
(215) 875-7030