Last Thursday, a Transportation subcommittee of the Virginia House of Representatives voted to approve a law that would allow drivers of motorcycles, mopeds, or bicycles to proceed through a red light under certain circumstances. The bill, HB1981, was introduced originally by Del. Tag Greason of Loudoun.
The bill proposes to add a section to existing legislation that regulates traffic lights and establishes penalties for violations of traffic signals. The bill as currently written, would allow the drivers of motorcycles, mopeds, or bicycles to proceed through an intersection on a steady red light, but only if the driver obeys four conditions:
- The driver must first come to a full stop at the intersection and wait through two complete cycles of the traffic light;
- The driver must exercise due care;
- The driver must treat the stoplight as if it were a stop sign; and
- The driver must determine that it is safe to proceed.
The bill offers a response to drivers whose vehicles do not weigh enough to trigger a stoplight to switch to green, and thus spend an unreasonable amount of time waiting at red lights. A very similar bill, HB572, was proposed last year, also by Tag Greason, but ultimately did not receive approval of the Transportation committee. Eight other states have similar laws in place. The current bill, HB1981, since obtaining approval of the Transportation subcommittee, will now advance to a vote in the full Transportation committee.