This year came with a flurry of new laws passed during the previous year that finally came into effect. One law in particular has many in the area of auto accident law taking close notice, as it has the potential to be particularly troublesome.

A new law, as explained in detail by CBS Chicago, allows motorcyclists and bicyclists in municipalities of less than 2 million people (so, basically, anywhere except Chicago) to drive through a red light if they first wait for “a reasonable amount of time.”

While some legislators have stated that a “reasonable amount of time” will amount to at least two minutes, this is not defined or spelled out in the bill itself — which was the reason that this law was initially vetoed by Governor Quinn, although that veto was ultimately overturned. This fact — that a “reasonable amount of time” before a motorcyclist or bicyclist does something that would be otherwise against the law is not defined — has the potential to cause many problems going forward.

The rationale behind the law itself is that these vehicles are not big enough to trigger the magnetic sensor that would bring a green light and, as such, would have to otherwise wait for another car to come along. This law worries many attorneys, in that if there is no other car present to trigger a green light, then who is to verify whether a motorcycle or bicycle actually waited for two minutes before running a red light in the event of an accident?

Furthermore, if the law doesn’t specifically spell out what a “reasonable” amount of time is, then trial courts are going to have a great deal of difficulty in determining whether there should be any across the board rule on how long of a wait is “reasonable.” And, from a practical standpoint, it is probably fair to ask whether any amount of time is really “reasonable” before running a red light, as this might cause automobile drivers to react when seeing a motorcycle stopped at a red light, and has the potential to cause a number of otherwise avoidable accidents. In any event, this gives all the more reason to pay extra attention when driving through an intersection — even if you have a clear green light.

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