New Ohio law allows drivers to go through red lights

A brand new law in Ohio allows for drivers to go through an intersection even if there is a red light, provided the light is malfunctioning.

But police say motorists shouldn't feel as though they have a free pass.

"Just because you're waiting there for a few seconds, it doesn't mean it's going to be okay for you to run the red light," said Lt. Joe Heffernan of the Toledo Police Department.

House Bill 154 says if a light is malfunctioning -- for example, none of the signals are lit, or a red light is lasting an inordinate amount of time, drivers would be able to proceed through the intersection legally.

"There's a very good chance we could see an increase in the accident rate at intersections, which as we know can be deadly accidents," said Donna Foster, a driving instructor of nearly 20 years.

She adds that the new law could also be difficult for teen drivers to fully grasp.

"They can become impatient and/or just confused and go through a red light."

"You still have that responsibility to make sure there's no oncoming traffic," Heffernan said. "It's also going to be your responsibility to prove that the traffic light was malfunctioning."

As the law is written, the burden of proof does indeed fall on the driver.

A similar law was recently passed in Pennsylvania -- a bill brought on by motorcyclists who said their bikes weren't heavy enough to trigger the traffic light sensors.

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