COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Running a red light will soon be legal in Ohio, but only if the signal is malfunctioning.
House Bill 154, passed by the state legislature in December and signed by Governor Kasich, changes the protocol for proceeding into an intersection that has malfunctioning traffic signals.
The new law treats the failure of a vehicle detector to detect a vehicle the same as the signal being out. If a driver believes the signal is malfunctioning, they must stop before entering the intersection and yield to traffic in the intersection before proceeding with care.
The law firm Rittgers & Rittgers said in a blog post that the law does not establish how long a motorist must wait before determining that the vehicle was not detected. Rittgers warned the new law does not allow drivers to wait a few seconds at a light and then go through.
Drivers could still be cited for crashes that happen if it turns out the vehicle detector was working all along, according to Rittgers.
House Bill 154 is one of many new laws passed by the legislature at the end of the last session.
The new law takes effect on March 21.
Full text of the relevant section of House Bill 154:
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.
The law also specifies that three feet is the safe distance for passing a bicycle on the road.