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New Ohio law lets you drive through a red light "if you think it's malfunctioning"

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MJPIA

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Dec 15, 2014
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In general more states probably need laws like these clarifying these thing especially with the advent of smarter and smarter traffic lights which can go wonky when there's a sensor failure.

To amend sections 4511.132 and 4511.27 of the Revised Code to provide that when a motor vehicle passes a bicycle the safe passing distance to the left is three feet or greater, and to alter the protocol for proceeding into an intersection that has malfunctioning traffic lights.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio:
SECTION 1. That sections 4511.132 and 4511.27 of the Revised Code be amended to read as follows: Sec. 4511.132. (A) The driver of a vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley who approaches an intersection where traffic is controlled by traffic control signals shall do all of the following, if the signal facing the driver either exhibits no colored lights or colored lighted arrows or , exhibits a combination of such lights or arrows that fails to clearly indicate the assignment of right-of-way, or the signals are otherwise malfunctioning, including the failure of a vehicle detector to detect the vehicle: (1) Stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or, if none, stop before entering the intersection; (2) Yield the right-of-way to all vehicles, streetcars, or trackless trolleys in the intersection or approaching on an intersecting road, if the vehicles, streetcars, or trackless trolleys will constitute an immediate hazard during the time the driver is moving across or within the intersection or junction of roadways; (3) Exercise ordinary care while proceeding through the intersection. (B) Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.
Looks like it sailed through the Senate with 30 yeas and 1 nay and the house 89 to 4.
Seems a reasonable bill clarifying what to do in situations like this.
The burden of proof to prove that the light was malfunctioning falls on the driver so anyone that tries to abuse this law that gets caught will not be getting away with it.
 

johnny956

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Apr 16, 2013
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I'm really curious what prompted this really awesome and totally not dangerous law.

There is a light by my house that acts up sometimes and the sensor doesn't trip so you'll be at a red light for 3 or 4 minutes and eventually you just have to run it. I hate doing it but I'm not going to sit there and hope it eventually works
 

crazygambit

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Jun 4, 2007
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Don't red lights either flash or turn off when they malfunction?

Even if they didn't, this seems unbelievably stupid.

Once I was waiting over 10 minutes at a light. It was clearly malfunctioning so everyone just went through it eventually.
 

Watevaman

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Nov 21, 2010
5,869
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Virginia, USA
This happens all the time to turn left signals! I usually have to wait 2 or 3 cycles at some traffic lights before it finally turns green.

Here in VA, motorcycles can proceed through red lights if they don't change for 2 cycles or 2 minutes. I've had to use it many times at lights with shitty sensors.
 

Ainsz

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Jan 9, 2014
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Not a bad idea really. In the UK I used to travel by moped. A certain junction near my house has "smart" traffic lights. If I ever happened to be travelling home at night when there was no other traffic, the light would always by default, be on red and would not detect me on the moped.

Whether it was a camera on top that didn't detect me or a pressure sensor under the road, I don't know but either way I was forced to run the red light every time.

So I believe there should at least be some margin of leniency towards running a red light when it is clearly safe and appropriate to do so.
 

kess

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Aug 3, 2013
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PA passed since a similar law last year. This is the kind of populist local stuff that Republicans generally push to stay popular with their constituents.

Not that I'm complaining, but making the sensors more efficient should be in order, and in thd long run would save time and resources.
 

Brian Griffin

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May 13, 2009
4,001
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I'm really curious what prompted this really awesome and totally not dangerous law.
Late at night the lights go into a weird mode and really sucks if you actually follow them, at least in my area. They are green as you approach but turn yellow/red when you get near and then don't change again until another car approaches the intersection, at which point it turns red for them and green for you. Totally stupid.

I have also been in heavy traffic and had my lane skipped 3+ times in the light rotation. Definitely a malfunction by I don't think my whole lane driving through the red would have helped.
 

Volimar

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Jun 11, 2011
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Yellow means hurry up and go before it turns red.

 

Host Samurai

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Dec 18, 2008
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I have done this before. I was waiting at a light for 10 minutes and it never turned green. It passed my turn like 5X.
 

MazeHaze

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Aug 11, 2013
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Akron, Ohio
I'm ok with this. I live in Ohio, and once I was at a red light for 5 minutes or more in the middle of the night. Eventually ran it and was immediately pulled over by a cop who was hiding around the corner. I explained what happened and he said "doesnt matter, you cant just run a red light." He let me off because my driving record is squeaky clean, but he was definitely parked near a broken light just waiting to pull people over.
 

D1337

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Jan 4, 2016
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Don't red lights either flash or turn off when they malfunction?

Even if they didn't, this seems unbelievably stupid.

No. When I took a motorcycle class. They said some lights don't work for Motocycles because the weight and size aren't picked up on a sensor. So if you're in front.
Also I think it's always been allowed in my state
 

pablito

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May 31, 2012
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I live in Ohio and there is a red light I deal with every single morning at about 4:40 am. No one is at the intersection but me...........and I always have to wait 5-6 minutes. I have to be on the air at 5am so it can get hairy sometimes.......... I will run this light from now on. (starting in March haha).

5-6 minutes, if you're not exaggerating, is way too long. But if you always have to deal with it and you're cutting it close frequently...leave at 4:35?
 

HTupolev

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Aug 13, 2012
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It still requires the driver to stop, and claiming that the light is stuck is an acknowledgement of a green light to other traffic, so this wouldn't actually protect drivers who carelessly cut cross traffic off. Various places already have similar laws for bicycles and motorcycles, and it doesn't seem to create issues. It sounds bad, but I'm not convinced it's really a problem.
 

robochimp

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Jun 7, 2004
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I assume every red light that I get stuck at in the middle of the night when there is noone else around is malfunctioning.

Yeah pretty much. On my early morning drive, one day the lights seemed to be prioritizing non existent traffic, it took me five minutes to drive two blocks. I tweeted the DOT, they acknowledged it was not working properly and fixed it.
 

HideyoshiJP

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Apr 22, 2014
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This is a valid law, I suppose. It clarifies things and requires the driver to yield to any traffic on the intersecting road.
I have to be honest, though. I've only ever encountered one non-power/bulb related failure in my 14 years of driving. In that instance, the light went two full cycles without letting my side make a left turn. Since it was the middle of the night, I just went.
 

msdstc

Incredibly Naive
Jan 6, 2007
24,382
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1,480
MASS
I assume every red light that I get stuck at in the middle of the night when there is noone else around is malfunctioning.

There's one near my house that is definitely broken at night. I gofishing late at night there and always get stuck. The cops see people eventually pull through and don't care, they hang out near the 7/11 right there, i don't think their should necessarily be a law for this, just common sense.
 

Fat4all

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Jan 11, 2015
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slickern a weazle
I was stuck at a red light at 2 am for like 5 mins once.

I was about to just go through when someone came up to the light going the opposite way and the light finally switched to green.
 

jfkgoblue

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Feb 13, 2010
5,096
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Hampton Roads VA
I'm ok with this. I live in Ohio, and once I was at a red light for 5 minutes or more in the middle of the night. Eventually ran it and was immediately pulled over by a cop who was hiding around the corner. I explained what happened and he said "doesnt matter, you cant just run a red light." He let me off because my driving record is squeaky clean, but he was definitely parked near a broken light just waiting to pull people over.
Most likely looking for easy DUI's.
 
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