Stop light laws could change for lightweight vehicles

The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee heard testimony Feb. 12 on a bill that would allow lightweight vehicles to proceed through red traffic lights.

Under LB85, introduced by Columbus Sen. Paul Schumacher, a vehicle weighing less than 2,000 pounds would be allowed to proceed through an empty intersection or turn either direction after being stopped for two minutes at a traffic light.

Many traffic lights are equipped with roadway sensors that detect the presence of metal on a motor vehicle before the light will switch to green, Schumacher said. These sensors often do not detect enough metal on the motorcycle to trigger traffic lights to switch to green, he said, forcing motorcyclists to proceed illegally through them.

The bill would provide a solution by permitting motorcyclists to proceed through the intersection if the light remains unchanged for two minutes and it is clear of other vehicles, Schumacher said.

John Lippert, a motorcyclist from Columbus, testified in support of the bill. He said many traffic control light sensors do not detect his 900-pound motorcycle.

“I must decide whether to violate the red light or turn right at every intersection,” Lippert said.

Todd Miller, state coordinator for American Bikers Aimed Toward Education of Nebraska, also testified in support. Sometimes sensors can be triggered by the vehicle following the motorcycle, he said, which forces the motorcyclists to move forward into crosswalks and oncoming traffic.

“This is a huge safety issue for a lot of these smaller vehicles,” Miller said.

No one testified in opposition and the committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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