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Can Tennessee Motorcyclists Legally Drive Through Red Lights?

Posted on in Personal Injury

Campbell County motorcycle accident injury attorney

After receiving complaints from motorcyclists regarding wait times at stoplights, Tennessee joined 11 other states in legalizing safe crossing through red lights under certain circumstances. In 2003, Tennessee passed its law, which states that motorcyclists can pass through intersections with red lights after coming to a complete stop first. Of course, the law has limits to keep drivers safe from injuries as a result of collisions. Motorcyclists can only pass through red lights that are controlled by sensors, which in some cases can identify cars, but not motorcycles. Cyclists must proceed with caution to avoid causing a crash or being hit by another driver.

Understanding Tennessee Traffic Control Laws

Sensors that control traffic signals detect metal, and as motorcycles have evolved, more and more of these vehicles are manufactured using materials such as aluminum and fiberglass. As a result, sensors sometimes cannot detect when a motorcycle is waiting for the light to turn green. Therefore, motorcyclists have complained that the wait time at certain intersections was too long. Tennessee’s laws allow motorcycle drivers to cross through red lights only if:

  • The motorcyclist stops completely first.

  • The intersection is clear of cross-traffic.

  • No pedestrians are present in the crosswalk.

  • The motorcyclist exercises due care before proceeding.

The most important aspect of this law states that a traffic light must be one that is controlled by a vehicle detection device. If a motorcyclist drives through an intersection with a light that is on a timer -- not on a detection device -- he or she can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which can result in up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine up to $50.

Dangers to Red-Light Crossing

Tennessee police officers had some reservations when the 2003 law was initially passed. They were worried about the possibility that motorcyclists would pass through red lights unsafely and increase the risk of accidents for other drivers. Motorcyclists who do not take the proper care at red lights can increase the risk of injuries such as:

  • Broken bones

  • Head and neck injuries

  • Road rash

  • Bruises and lacerations

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

  • Spinal cord damage

  • Wrongful death

Since Tennessee is an at-fault state, a motorcyclist may be required to pay compensation if he or she causes a collision while driving through a red light. In addition to the costs of medical treatment, an injured driver may be able to recover compensation for loss of income, property damage, and pain and suffering.

Contact a Jacksboro, TN Personal Injury Lawyer

Recovering compensation after a motorcycle accident can be complicated in Tennessee, especially if you were not aware of the traffic law regarding red lights. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a motorcycle crash, you should reach out to an experienced lawyer from the Law Offices of William F. Evans who can investigate the accident and make sure you receive the compensation you need and deserve. If necessary, an accomplished Campbell County motorcycle accident attorney can represent you in litigation as well. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 423-449-7980.




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