Bill would let bikers run lights

COLUMBIA --- South Carolina may join five states that let motorcyclists, mo-ped drivers and bicyclists run red lights that don't change within a couple of minutes.

The House and Senate sent a bill Thursday to Gov. Mark Sanford that allows that, even though it raises concerns about whether intersections will become more dangerous.

Supporters say motorcyclists get trapped at red lights with sensors embedded in the road that don't respond to smaller vehicles. The legislation would require them to stop and allow them to go through the red light if the signal doesn't change within two minutes as long as they can do so safely.

Arkansas, Idaho, Minnesota, Tennessee and Wisconsin all have similar laws, said Imre Szauter, who oversees state legislation for the American Motorcyclist Association. He notes none of them have seen increased fatalities because of the law changing,

Among the states that allow post-stop, red-light running, only Tennessee requires the use of helmets, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

South Carolina's death rates on motorcycles rose from 88 in 2004 to 109 in 2006, the last year for which the agency has numbers.

"I think the motorcyclist community is going to be very, very careful in the use of this," Mr. Szauter said.

But what about other drivers?

"It invites a good deal of subjective law interpretation -- everybody sort of deciding on their own," said Doug Hecox, spokesman for the Federal Highway Administration in Washington.