Do Motorcycles Have To Stop At Stop Signs?


What’s more frustrating than pulling up to a traffic light on your motorcycle, only to find that the light cycle has skipped you? Have you ever wondered if you can just ride through it? People sometimes mistake the rules that motorcycles follow relating to red-lights and stop signs, and it’s important that riders know the difference.

Do motorcycles have to stop at stop signs? Motorcycles are required to stop at stop signs. Motorcycles are not exempt from following traffic laws and are required to stop at any red light or stop sign prior to proceeding forward. More than the safety of other motorists, these laws are in place to protect the life of the motorcycle rider.

Even though all motorcycles need to stop at traffic signs, are there circumstances that would allow the rider to go through a red-light before it turns green? If so, how can a rider ensure that they do it safely? 

Why Motorcycles Are Required To Stop

As I already mentioned, the reason that motorcycles have to follow traffic signs and signals has very little to do with ensuring the safety of others. Rather, the need that motorcycles have to follow street signs is to keep themselves safe.

Motorcycles are hard for cars to see, especially when the driver isn’t paying attention or doesn’t expect to see a motorcycle. The motorcyclist has the responsibility to ride in a way that gives cars and other vehicles on the road ample time to see them and react. No matter what intersection it is, what time of day it is, or how many people we see on the road, motorcyclists need to come to full and complete stops.

Sometimes, lights aren’t triggered by a motorcycle. This however, doesn’t give the rider permission to not come to a full stop. Riding can be dangerous if done recklessly, and is only made more dangerous by riders not taking all the precautions possible.

Predictive riding is key to a long life of riding. When on a bike, we have to behave in a way that keeps us visible to cars. Riding is not for everybody, and if you or someone you know isn’t ready for that commitment, then it might be best that they find a new hobby.

Precautions To Take While At A Stop Sign 

Motorcycles are hard to spot, especially when they ride in a way that puts them in a vehicle’s blind spot. There are several blind spots on a car; one is directly in front of the hood and low to the ground, another is directly to the left or to the right. In addition, last major one is directly behind a trunk or tailgate.

When coming to a stop, we must do what we can to avoid these blind spots. When coming to a stop, it’s important that we are aware of the traffic that is behind us. As crazy as it sounds, all too often a car won’t see a motorcycle that is stopped directly in front of them.

To minimize the risk of sitting at a stop sign or stop light, it’s good practice to sit either to the left or to the right of the lane that you are stopped in. This can help accomplish several things, the first, is it puts you in the line of sight of the person in front of you. Instead of sitting behind them, you can be seen from their side view mirror. This also protects you from being crunched if you’re rear ended; rather than getting stuck between two cars, a rear end would likely push you off to the side.

This being said, you should make sure that you can see the face of the driver of the car through their side mirror. Remember that if you can’t see them, then they can’t see you!

Additionally, you’ll want to put yourself to the side of the lane because it gives you a quick way out of a bad situation, while at the same time helping you stay aware of the traffic that is moving behind you. 

Why There’s A Misconception For Stop Signs

There are two reasons that people have confusion when looking at stopping at stop signs. The first, and biggest, reason that motorcyclist think that they don’t have to come to a complete stop is because there are exceptions relating to red-light stops. At red lights, you have to come to a stop, but sometimes it’s okay to go through the intersection when the light is red. But this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to wait your turn and not come to a stop at a stop sign. Riders must stop at stop signs fully and wait their turn to go. 

Another reason that riders might confuse stop sign laws is because there are certain locations that have “group riding laws”. Group riding laws, if I over simplify them, is when a group of motorcycles don’t need everyone in the group to stop fully and wait their turn, but can just go through as a group.

People who ride in groups still need to be careful, and need to make sure that you always look left and right several times before going through the intersections. Also, be aware that these laws are not the same in every state or county. So make sure you know what the local laws are so that you can avoid a ticket or a possible accident.

When A Motorcyclist Can Run A Red Light

So, now we know that motorcycles have to stop at traffic lights, signals, and signs, when is it okay to run a red light? Not all lights are able to be triggered by the weight of a motorcycle. Sometimes bigger intersections require more weight than just a several hundred-pound motorcycle to make it change to green.

In some states, it is legal for a motorcycle to go through a red light when the trigger of the light isn’t able to change by the presence of bike. This can be very dangerous if the rider isn’t careful. Just like at stop signs, the rider needs to understand the responsibility that they have to stay safe and be aware of the situation that they are in. Check with your state’s laws before you proceed to do something like this since this is not legal everywhere.

It’s not always ideal or possible to just run the red light. Sometimes it can be great and convenient, but other times it’s too dangerous to risk. I have a couple of tips to keep in mind so that you, the rider, can stay safe when going through an intersection that isn’t triggered by your motorcycle. 

The first piece of advice is to just wait for a car to come along. This isn’t ideal, and sometimes can take longer then we would like, but it might be the safest option that we have. If it’s a busy intersection and we don’t have the room to cross the intersection, we might have to consider waiting another minute or two for a car to show up.

Another idea when stuck at a light is to just take a right at the intersection, and find a junction later down the road that you can make a u-turn at. Again, like the first example, this might throw off your trip or your commuting time, but it’s very important that you stay safe.

Finally, I’ve found myself in situations when the light won’t trigger, and no car is approaching from behind, and the intersection is busy enough that I don’t want to risk pulling into it. What I’ve done in those situations is find a nearby pedestrian crossing button. I’ll get off my bike or move it to the side, and press the pedestrian button that is meant to pause traffic and allow people to walk across the intersection.

After pressing the button, I hop back on my bike and then cross when the light turns green.Traffic laws are unique and every area can be a little bit different. Be aware of local laws and procedures, and do all that you can to maximize being seen and can help you as a rider to stay safe!

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