“Idaho Stop” Law Makes The Roads Safer for Cyclists and Motorists Alike s?

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Idaho Stop LawSince 1982, Idaho bicyclists have followed a law that has them treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stops signs. This so-called Idaho Stop law has been widely praised as an effective reform for improved cycling safety.

Under the law, when a bicyclist approaches a stop sign, he or she should:

1. Slow down and stop if required for safety.

2. Yield the right-of-way to any motor vehicle in the intersection or any approaching vehicles that will create a hazard if the cyclist crosses the intersection.

3. Continue after appropriately slowing and yielding without stopping.

Allowing cyclists to do this is really about conservation of energy and recognizing the differences between bike and cars.

When a bicyclist approaches a red light, he or she should:

  1. Stop.
  2. Yield to all other traffic.
  3. Proceed through the red light with the appropriate caution.

Having cyclists clear the intersection at a stop light avoids many unsafe interactions between cars and bicyclists.  Obviously the cyclist has to use caution,

This law in part has allowed Idaho to lead the way in reducing bicycle accident rates. For example, in the year following the adoption of the law, bicycle accidents declined by 14.5 percent.  And usually being among the lowest in the rate of fatalities as a percent of population among the states.  Some other states adopted some legislation with some hints of the Idaho Stop.  Laws like Missouri’s “dead red” law that permit cyclists to proceed through a red light after reasonably considered period of time.  No other state has adopted the Idaho Stop, although some people have tried to get it adopted.

The Idaho Stop law acknowledges the realities of bicyclists traveling on roads with controls designed to handle motor vehicles. Regular traffic control mechanisms often fail to work with bicycles, since they are not large or heavy enough to trigger the road sensors. The Idaho Stop law places a greater emphasis on yielding the right-of-way when appropriate while taking into consideration the fact that cyclists can easily yield the right-of-way without coming to a complete stop.

Benefits of the Idaho Stop law:

  • Allowing cyclists to get in front of traffic increases their visibility to motorists
  • Having cyclists “clear” an intersection before the light turns green reduces the potential for collisions
  • Eliminating the need to pay for extra sensing equipment to detect bicycles at intersections
  • Improving the overall flow of traffic
  • Making bicycling easier and safer encourages people to choose this eco-friendly method of transportation
  • Acknowledges the role of momentum in cycling

Just like ordinary right turn on red light laws rely on the judgment of drivers, the Idaho Stop law relies on the judgment of cyclists.  There is a segment of the population that feels the law is “unfair” because it grants special rights to cyclists.  Of course, there are many rules that apply to specific forms of transportation:  weight limits and different speed limits for trucks, rules allowing farm vehicles and requiring flagging and the like.  There is the issue that some children may not understand how to safely apply the rules.  But dealing with children and cycling safety is a complete realm of analysis unto itself.  Even politicians have learned of the benefits of the law,  As repred in the Toronto Star, Adam Park, director of communication for David Bieter, mayor of Boise, Idaho, said the Idaho stop has become something of an attraction for cyclists touring the area.

“Bicyclists come here and they immediately are just overjoyed with the knowledge that something they’ve done illegally in other places is legal here,” Park said. “It allows them to flow more freely and still safely.”

Holzer Edwards Can Help

If you or someone you love has been injured in an auto accident caused by a negligent driver, you may be entitled to compensation to pay for medical care and other expenses. The leading personal injury lawyers at Holzer Edwards are dedicated to assisting Idaho residents who have been injured due to the negligent actions of others. Call (208) 386-9119 or toll-free at (888) 490-0992 for a free consultation.


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