House greenlights the “Dead Red” motorcycle bill

TOPEKA — The Kansas House has passed a bill to allow motorcyclists to ride through red lights that never change.

The measure, called the Dead Read bill, passed in conjunction with a measure to stop cities and counties from tacking extra fines onto seat-belt violations. The state passed a mandatory seat-belt law last year to qualify for federal highway funds, but set the fine at $5 for adult violators.

The two measures were combined into a single bill, House Bill 2192, by the House Transportation Committee, said its chairman, Gary Hayzlett, R-Topeka. A stand-alone version is on the calendar awaiting House action.

The bill was introduced after motorcyclists from the group ABATE — A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments — complained that their cycles lack the necessary mass of metal to trigger sensors in pavements that switch traffic lights at intersections.

That, they said, requires them to risk a ticket or wait indefinitely until a larger vehicle comes along to trip the sensor.

Rep. Owen Donohoe, R-Topeka, tried to amend the bill to strip out the dead red provision, saying it could cause accidents as cycles go through red lights and enter traffic.

“I see no skeletal remains of motorcyclists sitting at red lights that never change,” he said.

John Faber, a lobbyist for ABATE, said he was pleased the bill passed but predicted it might face a rough road in the Senate because it was paired up with the seat-belt measure.

“The Senate’s a little more moderate as far as seat belts go,” Faber said. The Senate could strip out the seat-belt provision or it could kill the bill, he said.