Red light running not allowed, even if the traffic signal doesn’t ‘see’ you, police say

Every now and then I get letters from readers wanting to know what they can do about red lights that never seem to recognize their vehicle. One reader asked if he could “run” the light, as long as there was nothing coming. Local law enforcement officials advise against that, saying a vehicle, pedestrian or bicyclist could cross your path without you seeing it. Below are comments from Capt. Steve Clark of the Santa Cruz Police Department and Lt. John Hohmann of the Scotts Valley Police. Capt. Clark: “We would never authorize or recommend to anyone that they cross an intersection against a red light. While it can be frustrating, the drivers run the risk of not seeing approaching cars, bicycles or pedestrians that have the green, especially at night. Oftentimes, the light sensor can be triggered by rolling a few more feet forward or back, but only if safe to do so. I would encourage drivers to contact the police department or public works signal maintenance to report the malfunction. The police department will send an officer to check malfunctioning lights. If the light is found to be malfunctioning, we will contact signal maintenance for the repair and if necessary call them out after hours.” Lt. Hohmann: “There are no provisions to the California Vehicle Code that allow you to 'run' a red light before it changes to green. I suggest being patient if you do not get the green on the first go around. Motorists generally do not have this problem. This usually occurs for the motorcyclist or scooter rider. Follow the suggestions listed below.
  1. Observe the shape of the inductive loop and position your bicycle, scooter, or motorcycle accordingly. If you keep hitting a problematic traffic light on a daily basis, take the time to examine the area where you're stuck. Look for 'sawcuts' or lines showing where the loop was inserted. There are three commonly seen shapes, and the way you position a two-wheeled vehicle over them can affect whether or not it gets detected. If you can't see the outline of the loop, such as if the road was repave, try both techniques and see which one works.
  2. Dipole loop -- Put both wheels directly on one of the sawcuts at either the right or the left. If you're still not detected, lean slightly towards the center.
  3. Quadrupole loop -- Place both wheels on the center sawcut, which has two wires and is more sensitive. If the traffic light doesn't change, lean slightly towards one of the outer lines on either side.
  4. Diagonal Quadrupole -- Designed to sense two-wheeled vehicles more easily. If a two-wheeled vehicle isn't detected, the sensitivity of the loop might be too low in general.
  5. Attach neodymium magnets to the vehicle. While there is significant debate as to whether a magnet can be strong enough to alter the electromagnetic field which triggers the sensor, you may decide to give it a shot. You can buy a commercial magnet or make your own.”
This entry was posted in bicycle, consumer affairs, driver education, Driver safety, motorcycle, pedestrians, Public safety, Red light runners, Santa Cruz Police, Scotts Valley Police, traffic laws, traffic light, traffic signal, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Red light running not allowed, even if the traffic signal doesn’t ‘see’ you, police say

  1. Adam says:

    Why wouldn’t you treat this like any other defective traffic signal, i.e. as a stop sign? If the traffic signal refuses to change, it is clearly defective. Calling the City maintenance people doesn’t really help if you are stuck at a light that doesn’t change!

  2. USB 3G says:

    Nice, that’s helpful for me!

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