Pennsylvania’s New Red Light Law Goes into Effect

HARRISBURG -- A new law allowing drivers to go through a red light--under certain conditions--went into effect in Pennsylvania on Sunday.

Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill into law in July. It took effect September 18.

The new rule allows drivers to go through a red light when the sensor appears to be malfunctioning--such as if it is blinking or if the light’s sensor appears not to be working, keeping the light from turning green.

The law was originally intended to help motorcyclists, but it was expanded to apply to all vehicles.

Some traffic lights use sensors that are under the pavement so when a car comes up, it triggers the sensor. The problem is motorcycles sometimes don't trigger it, so that light never turns green.

"You'll sit at these lights and wait and wait and wait and nothing happens," said Ken Gaudio of Waymart. "You're sitting there for two minutes, three minutes and it's not changing so you know something is wrong. That the sensor in the road is not picking up the weight of the bike."

The bill does not specify how long a driver must wait at a red light before proceeding through it.

"If the vehicle detection system fails to recognize the vehicle and the driver has come to a complete stop, the driver must then make sure it is safe to continue, and only then would they be able to lawfully proceed with caution through the intersection," State Rep. Stephen Bloom, who introduced the bill, said in a statement.

Many drivers we spoke with are nervous the law could be easily abused.

"It's a judgment call, and if there's other cars there, I think I'd be chicken to go on through," said Clyde Bunting of Waymart.

"I don't think it's a good thing," added Scott Hall of Archbald. "I think a lot of accidents are going to be caused by it. That's the reason why it's a red light!"

68 comments

  • Matt

    I honestly have been practicing this myself before it even became a law… so I’m all for it! However… Do you realize how many people in today’s world lack common sense???? Watch the idiots and accidents take over!

  • Sally

    Several states have already implemented this law years ago with little to no issues. Pa will be no different. You’ll forget about it in a couple of weeks and go about your lives as you were because it does not effect 90% of you. Honestly, you all get upset over some of the dumbest of things. If you really want to complain about laws, how about ones that are actually hurting PA’s economy.

  • lynda

    Amazing….really….PA is so backwards. Was this really necessary??? Here in PA people have made up their own driving rules for years, already running red lights…so now they will do it even more. Government laws not smart!!!

    • Sally

      Several states have already implemented this very same laws years ago with little to no issues. You’re right when you say PA is backwards, but not for the reasoning’s you believe.

  • Bozo Larry

    Some dummies here think it will cause accidents. How can you not trust yourself enough to make it across an intersection like you would if it were a stop sign? #scaredtosubmission

  • Paul George

    NOT a good idea. The right on red law has been abused enough to warrant that being revoked. It’s suppose to be right on red after a complete stop WITH your turn signal on. Maybe 2 out of 10 do that. It’s making the roadways much more dangerous than they already are. I can understand this for motorcycles but not cars and trucks.

    • RW Griswold

      Absolutely! you must come to a complete stop, and while the article doesn’t specify it, you should wait up to 30 seconds, to be assured that the sensor is not working, before proceeding. you are NOT supposed to treat it as a stop sign where you just come to a stop and proceed.

  • Frank Lipshitz

    If there is one thing that’s consistent about the state of Pennsylvania…. it’s all the inconsistencies!!!

  • bjaeger88

    the light on 183 by tom’s (or whatever it’s called now) always used to malfunction at night. i sat at it for 5-10+ minutes before waiting for it to change…

  • Brad Johnson

    There was a time when it was still illegal to make a right turn on red in Pennsylvania. That law was changed to make it legal “AFTER COMING TO A FULL STOP!” No one obeys that anymore…except me.

  • brian joshua collins

    So a standard practice is now a law. Big freaking deal. Talk about wasting the governments time! Idiots!

    • RW Griswold

      its a BIG deal for motorists, and especially motorcyclists who have been affected by this, often times being pulled over and ticketed after waiting sometimes up to 5 minutes for a light to change.

  • Iris Nesbit

    its making it easier for the police not to ticket you if they pull you over for going thru it. i had to go thru a red light years ago, and the police stopped me. after i explained it to them why i finally went thru it, i was ok’d, because that particular light was a problem more than once. The law states they still have to completely stop. Tickets will be issued for running a red light if you do not completely stop. Also, if you havent waited till its clear or you know the light has missed you at least once. Tickets will be issued to all the drivers who run lights no matter what the law, and the stop signs.

  • Valfreyja

    I’m not one of these ridiculous Wolf haters but this is a dumb law. Driving regulations are there to REMOVE choice, the intended effect being that so long as you follow the rules you really can’t be in the wrong. Half the drivers in PA haven’t even heard of turn signals and think the middle of the intersection is a great place to stop on a red light. I don’t want these miscreants having choices like this.

    • Shakes

      I’ve been on a motorcycle at intersections where the light dows not change unless you are “heavy” enough to trip the ground loop signal. It’s more dangerous for a motorcyclist to get off his bike and push the light change button than it is to proceed through a red light cautiously. Sorry, but this law needed to be passed. a motorcycle sitting at a light is an easy target for a distracted driver.

      • William Young

        Being “heavy” has nothing to do with why some lights won’t change, it’s the vehicle doesn’t have enough metal, the induction loops in the ground basically work on a magnetic field, the size and lack of metal is why the lights won’t change for bikes. I have a powerful magnet on the underside of my bike, if I pull up directly over top of the cut of one of the visible loops in the ground the light will change, if I don’t, or can’t see them, it won’t. PA should have left it as a law for bikes, like a lot of others states did. The lights that truly malfunction are already to be treated as a stop sign.

  • Larry

    There was a loophole for malfunctioning lights in the law already. PA Vehicle Code sec. 3112,a3c. Any additions only benefit those looking to beat charges. Most drivers who think the signal isn’t working don’t understand to stop where the line is or the sign that tells them where to stop. Those things are there so you can stop where the sensor will pick you up. Then I can’t wait for law breakers to run it while an emergency vehicle is using an emitter to keep their light green so they can get through an intersection safely. Now wait for that collision because of impatience and ignorance to how the light systems work. Older type sensors should be an exemption for motorcycles, after all if your on a bike your gonna make sure it’s safe to go through. They will always lose against a car.

  • Gina Jeffries

    This is NOT a great idea. You’ll have idiots stopping and then jumping right out. And I can only speculate that one driver will be waiting for the light to change when some bozo behind him starts blasting on the horn. Talk about a “road rage” incident just waiting to happen. Really stupid Gov Wolf!

    • Marie Stoves

      I will make the right turn on red most of the time. BUT, if some bozo pulls up behind me and honks the horn to rush me? Forget it! I make the jerk sit. and unless i am in a hurry, have been known to “stall” my car on purpose to make them sit an extra turn at the light. Then just as the second cycle is too late for them to get through I wave at them and leave. right-turn on red is a legal :option” not a mandatory thing.

      • William Young

        BRAD JOHNSON, (from wiki) All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico have allowed right turns on red since 1978, except where prohibited by a sign or where right turns are controlled by dedicated traffic lights. (In June 1978, Maryland became the last state to allow right turns on red. Right turns on red became legal in the District of Columbia in November 1978.) The few exceptions include New York City, where right turns on red are prohibited, unless a sign indicates otherwise.

  • Kyle

    I feel as if this should be a “motorcycle only” clause. I have never been in my car or truck and had “my” light remain red for countless rotations. I have however been the only motorcycle in my lane multiple times and the green light keeps “skipping” me, until a car arrives behind me…or I run it.

  • Aggie

    They should fix the lights instead of passing that law for anyone in a car or motorcycle Hazleton and west Hazleton lights yang wait forever till they change

  • Canyon

    This is what lawmakers are spending time on? Seriously? Do you think I would wait for a week before someone comes and fixes it? Seriously?

  • rcarson79

    I am glad they finally made this a law. I cannot remember how many times I got stuck at a red light because it would not change. I use to deliver newspapers early in the mourning and I knew of one light the would change as soon as I stopped at it. One mourning it didn’t so I waited a minute looked both ways and proceeded. I notified the newspaper company in case I got a ticket. I didn’t. They have computers that tell them how long a light has been red and how long it should be red. Just use common sense and you won’t get in trouble.

  • A Shrubbery

    So… the detractors of “more freedom” would be against a headline that read, “USA Citizens Tax Free”? I don’t get this mentality. It just primarily lifts the burden of guilt when you are the one vehicle sitting at a light that might have a camera and you have FREE F***ING WILL to continue uninhibited! Sheep. Who pumps the air into your lungs when you don’t trust yourself to make the decision to do so? Might as well revert back to children and grasp that imaginary everlasting teet that you think is there… My goodness, the density is almost enough to conquer the vacuum of space

      • A Shrubbery

        Never a bully, and I don’t see an example of it it my original comment. I did however have other comments with a lot more steam deleted. Teacher? You know what they say about teachers. Not judging you as a hypocrite by calling me a bully or saying I think I’m so smart, but you kind of put the proof out there yourself. I guess you never had to work a night shift or earlier than 7 A.M., and that’s fine. The mud slinging is a game that I will not direct at one person, but let those that identify just walk into. Don’t trip so hard next time buddy😉 P.S. I’m not a fan of Wolf either, so witch hunt someplace else

    • Stephanie Nogee

      If this the case, then why not just have stop signs everywhere. Hope Tom Wolfe has money to pay for all the people who get into accidents.😦

      • A Shrubbery

        A “band-aid” of sorts for out dated and failing equipment that is costly to replace, and/or a lower specialized workforce to perform the jobs. More money for special interests that the creepy bas tard and his friends deem necessary. I’m not changing my tune on this. It is more freedom, albeit either an unintended side effect or sugar coat of a greed based agenda. Why not fix the sensors? They’ve back burnered them too long, and it is easier to cut workers. For this part of my argument, I’m not happy. I hope the jobs are kept. In my earlier comments I pointed out that 15 other states have safe-on-red laws, and that people aren’t actually concentrating their opinions correctly. It won’t be fender benders, it will be lay-offs. Those comments were deleted. That’s what I get for trying to help -Peace

  • Todd Robbins

    This will be the biggest mistake ever cause of this there will be more accidents then before. More accidents means more people getting hurt or worse. Stupid….stupid…..stupid…way to go Tom Wolf every accident that happens cause of this is on you.

    • Deb p

      This is the worst law ever !! (opens up for the people to run red lights ,not thought out ) Well no this one where anyone riding a motor cycle does do not have to wear helmet. That one makes a lot of sense .Lets concentrate on our Veterans, homeless people, stuff that matters . Where is the level of thinking gone in our Government ????

    • Tom

      I am guessing you never were caught at a malfunctioning traffic light. I doubt it will cause any more accidents than a regular stop sign which requires a driver to determine all on their own if it is safe to proceed. There are many such signs on very busy highways.

      • ricefairviewaolcom

        You do realize that there are a LOT of un-experienced new and young drivers out there that don’t follow any laws and will use this as a free pass to run any red light they stop at. Who decides how long you wait to see if the sensor is working or not? Stupid law from a stupid governor, and I live in Pa.

      • justwondering1234

        If the light is malfunctioning treat it as a stop-sign ! make sure of safe entry and proceed with caution !Anyone thinking that this law allows them to run a red light should not have a drivers license !

    • rdehwyll

      State Rep. Stephen Bloom introduced the bill, it was ratified by a republican-led state senate, and only signed into law when a veto was threatened with an override vote… so blame the Republicans, where the true blame lies…

      • Valfreyja

        Yeah but republicans need to believe there’s a “Lib’rul” boogey man behind every bad decision so they never have to take responsibility for their own actions.

    • A Shrubbery

      There are actually about 15 other states with safe-on-red laws on the books with no unusual up-kick in accidents. People don’t realize that there are sensors that rarely get replaced after paving projects due to costs, and in the long run this is good for the environment (for those of you that care). The scariest motorcycle oriented law that people don’t understand and want to huff about? Lane splitting. It is legal in some Europen countries, but only in the state of CA here. Tourists go to CA and regularly cut off people in traffic jams, open doors, and even get into physical confrontations while not knowing about the law. So, who is more dangerous? Those that enjoy their freedoms, or those that cry about it out through their own lack or fear of certitude?

      • A Shrubbery

        More than likely WTH, given that our 48 mainland states have similar testing, laws, and practices in place to give citizens the right to travel on a thoroughfare. Contempt for a certain area or it’s citizens tends to deflate whatever point you were trying to make however. Guess you don’t like polka music? Yeah, me neither…

      • A Shrubbery

        Also, my unbridled sense of self worth does not force me to hit the “like” button on my own comment. That is a sociopathic tendency, which is linked to serial killer types of behavior. Might want to maybe… just maybe, stop doing stuff like that😉

  • David Edwards

    They should honor Paterno He was never charged with wrong doings Sandusky was and convicted JOe died an innocent man with no charges , stop trying to convict him He did more for state college than any other educator Let him rest in peace please

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