Wisconsin Motorcycle Red Light Law

One of the dreams of any motorist is to be able to ignore laws relating to stopping at red lights and not being ticketed for “blowing” a red light. That is, not waiting for the red light to change to green before you continue on your way. For some motorcyclists, this dream is close to reality though it doesn’t quite allow motorcycle operators in Wisconsin to barrel through red lights with abandon in a foolhardy fashion.

Why are some motorcycle operators allowed to go through red lights?

In Wisconsin, some motorcycle operators are allowed to wait at a red light for 45 seconds, check all directions for signs of traffic and then, after ensuring there is no oncoming traffic in any direction, proceed along their way. The reason behind this law is technical. At some stoplights in Wisconsin, the sensors which detect whether a vehicle is present or not are unable to recognize some small motorcycles. This is not due to the widely thought of the reason for vehicle weight but instead due to some motorcycle’s lack of metal. This can lead to the awkward situation of a nearly interminable wait if no other vehicle comes along to trigger the sensor.

What happens if I get pulled over for running a red light?

Some motorcycle operators have encountered the issue of being pulled over by law enforcement who are unfamiliar with this particular law even as they act in accordance with it. A few of the more astute motorcycle operators have taken to carrying a copy of the statute with them to demonstrate to law enforcement that they were not, in fact, breaking the law.

Is there a fix for these sensors?

State engineers have requested that motorcyclists notify them when they encounter a stoplight that does not detect the motorcycle. This is so fine-tuning can be done to detect less metallically dense motorcycles.

Will Wisconsin be moving to newer technology to make this law obsolete? 

There are currently plans to more widely implement a system that is not dependent on metal composition. A video detection system, widely used in Southern Wisconsin, recognizes a background and notices changes in the background unrelated to the metal composition of a vehicle. It has been stated that this system improves detection not just for motorcycles but for bicycles that are at intersections as well.

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