SOME American states are allowing motorcyclists to go through red lights when sensors aren't able to detect they are there.
According to reports in USA Today, South Carolina became the seventh state to give motorcyclists license to proceed with caution when the device that causes the light to change from red to green doesn't activate.
Imre Szauter, government affairs manager for the American Motorcyclist Association, said that SC is now the seventh state to let bikers through junctions against the lights.
North Carolina passed a similar law in 2007. Wisconsin (2006), Idaho (2006) Arkansas (2005), Tennessee (2003) and Minnesota (2002), all have passed laws the past six years. Bills have been introduced for the same purpose in Georgia, Missouri and Oklahoma, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The Federal Highway Administration says such laws raise safety concerns, but biker groups that have lobbied for the change say they are common sense.
"We want to emphasize that the riders do this with safety and caution in mind," Szauter said. "If they truly are trapped at a light, this gives them an opportunity to safely proceed through that signal, because otherwise they don't really have much of a choice."
But the idea is still coming up against resistence. Doug Hecox, a spokesman for the Federal Highway Administration, said the states that have already approved the scheme should instead try to find a technical solution to the problem.
"We don't necessarily think that empowering motorists to make up their own rules of the road is the safest or best approach," he said.
The traffic lights in question are controlled by devices buried under the road that operate similar to metal detectors, according to Hecox. Their sensitivity can be set to detect motorcycles, but the proper balance is difficult to adjust, he said.