Traffic Control Signals and Motorcycles: Proceed at Your Own Risk

Under Tennessee law, a driver of a motorcycle can proceed through a red light under certain circumstances.  T.C.A. § 55-8-110 (b) provides as follows:

(b) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the driver of a motorcycle approaching an intersection that is controlled by a traffic-control signal utilizing a vehicle detection device that is inoperative due to the size of the motorcycle shall come to a full and complete stop at the intersection and, after exercising due care as provided by law, may proceed with due caution when it is safe to do so. It is not a defense to a violation of § 55-8-109 that the driver of a motorcycle proceeded under the belief that a traffic-control signal utilized a vehicle detection device or was inoperative due to the size of the motorcycle when the signal did not utilize a vehicle detection device or that the device was not in fact inoperative due to the size of the motorcycle.

So what does all that mean?  Well, if it is actually a traffic-controlled signal and you, as a motorcycle driver, proceed safely through the red light, then no problem.  If it is a traffic-controlled light and you, as a motorcycle driver, proceed through the light but cause an accident because you failed to notice an oncoming vehicle or other issue, then you may be at fault.  And if you proceed through the red light and it was not actually a traffic-controlled light, then you could still be ticketed for running a red light.  So, all that to say, proceed at your own risk as a motorcycle driver when proceeding through a red light.   Here is an article that may help motorcycle riders determine which red lights are actually traffic-actuated.