What Is Indiana’s “Dead Red” Law?

Motorcycle going through a red light due to Indiana's red dead law.

Motorists in Indiana must come to a full stop at a red light in Indiana. Many intersections have sensors embedded in roadways to determine when the traffic lights should change. Many of the sensors work by detecting the weight of vehicles on the road.

However, motorcycles, mopeds, and bicycles may not trip the sensors because they’re much lighter than cars. This can cause bicyclists, motorcyclists, and others to get stuck at a red light that won’t change. It may have happened to you.

In an attempt to remedy this situation, in 2014, Indiana lawmakers adopted the state’s so-called “Dead Red” law. The law allows motorcycles and bicycles to proceed through a red light under certain circumstances.

The Indiana motorcycle accident lawyers at Truitt Law Offices want to highlight the Dead Red law to help people understand this law and how it may apply if you’ve been involved in an accident. Learn more by calling one of our four Indiana locations or visiting our contact page.

The Provisions of Indiana’s “Dead Red” Law

The terms of Indiana’s Dead Red law are very similar to those found in other states with similar statutes. According to the Indiana Code, motorcycles, bicycles, and motor-driven cycles can proceed through a steady red light if:

  • They first come to a complete stop at the intersection for at least 120 seconds.
  • They abide by other Indiana traffic regulations and have determined that proceeding through the intersection is safe.

Prior to the passage of the law, you had few options if you found yourself stuck at a red light while riding a motorcycle or bicycle. If you didn’t want to break traffic regulations, you could wait for another vehicle to show up and trip the sensor, or you could make a right turn on red and circle back to go in the direction you originally intended.

Motorcyclists, bicyclists, and others stuck at a red light are expected to yield to other vehicles crossing through an intersection with a green light. If you don’t yield to vehicles that have the right of way to pass through the intersection and wind up in an accident, the Dead Red law may not protect you from being held responsible for the crash.

Does This Law Cause Crashes and Injuries in Indiana?

There are arguments for and against the Dead Red law. Those in favor of the law argue that having motorcycles, bicycles, and other smaller vehicles wait indefinitely at a red light is a major inconvenience and a significant safety hazard. Smaller vehicles such as motorcycles and bicycles are harder to spot because of their size, making them vulnerable to careless or distracted drivers.

On the other hand, there is good reason to be wary any time someone crosses through a red light at an intersection. Bicycles and motorcycles can put themselves in harm’s way if they cross the intersection at the wrong moment. This can lead to significant injuries or even fatal injuries in a collision between a car and a bicycle or motorcycle. From this perspective, it makes sense to be skeptical of the Dead Red law.

It’s difficult to say whether the Dead Red law reduces crashes or makes them more likely, mostly because there’s not much data. The 2019 traffic statistics from the Indiana University Public Policy Institute show that of all motorcycle accidents in Indiana that year, 879 of them (roughly a third of the total) occurred at intersections. Additional data show that 32 motorcycle accidents at intersections were fatal, while 561 accidents at intersections resulted in non-fatal injuries.

The problem is the statistics don’t offer much detail about how the accidents occurred and what the motorcyclists were doing. We don’t know how many motorcyclists were injured because they were trying to cross at a dead red light. Until we have more refined data on the causes of these kinds of accidents, it’s difficult to evaluate the Dead Red law’s impact on motorcyclists’ and bicyclists’ safety in Indiana.

What to Do If You Need Legal Help in Indiana

If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident or bicycle accident at an intersection due to another person running red lights, it’s important to take the proper steps. Doing so will protect your right and give you the best chance of seeking compensation for your injuries. Here’s what to do:

  • Call 911, or have someone else do it for you if you are injured and unable to do so. Calling 911 will bring law enforcement to the scene so they can begin their investigation. They may cite one or more parties for their role in causing the crash. You can use the accident report in your claim for compensation.
  • Take pictures of the crash and your injuries. Pictures make for strong evidence in a personal injury case.
  • When you report the accident to your insurance company, stick to the facts of the accident as best you remember them. Do not say “I’m sorry” or anything else that might indicate you’re apologizing or accepting fault for the accident.
  • Keep copies of your medical bills and pay stubs. These documents can be used to help establish your financial losses if you missed work as a result of injuries in the accident.
  • Start a pain journal. Indiana law allows you to claim compensation for your pain and suffering after an accident. But it’s a tricky thing to quantify. By documenting the pain you’re experiencing after an accident and how it impacts your life, you have a better chance of recovering compensation.
  • Stay off of social media, and don’t make any public statements about what happened. You don’t want to make any casual comments that provide an insurance adjuster ammunition to use against you when you file for compensation.
  • Call an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Without help from an experienced attorney, you run the risk of missing out on fair compensation for your injuries. A lawyer can look over your case and tell you what compensation you may be able to claim.

Contact Our Indiana Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Today

The personal injury lawyers at Truitt Law Offices have more than 40 years of experience helping people in Indiana rebuild their lives after serious injury accidents. We’ve recovered millions in compensation on behalf of families just like yours. If you’ve been seriously injured due to the red dead statue, get a free initial consultation by calling our law offices today. You can also fill out our contact form to speak to us about your injury claim.

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About the Author

Phil Truitt joined Truitt Law Offices in 2018 after he earned his J.D. from Ohio Northern University Ohio Northern Pettit College of Law. However, his association with the law firm dates all the way back to childhood. His father, Richard, established the firm over 40 years ago. Growing up, Phil…