Does Oregon have a Dead Red Law?

No.  Oregon does not have a “dead red” law.

A dead red law is a law that provides an exception to the violation of Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device when the light does not detect a vehicle (like a bicycle) and the light fails to cycle through to allow a roadway user to proceed.  This can result in a person being stuck at a light without any option for lawfully passing through the intersection.

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ORS 811.260 Appropriate driver responses to traffic control devices is the Oregon statute that governs how roadway users are to treat traffic signals.

ORS 811.260(7) Steady circular red signal.

A driver facing a steady circular red signal light alone shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is is no marked crosswalk, then before entering the intersection.  The driver shall remain stopped until a green light is shown except when the driver is permitted to make a turn under ORS 811.360 (When vehicle turn permitted at stop light).  Emphasis added.

Oregon law does not allow any exception to the red light law for traffic signals that fail to turn green.

This can create a problem for cyclists whose bicycles are not big enough to activate the in-ground hoops that detect vehicles at intersections.

Recent legislation introduced in the Oregon House of Representatives (HB 2820) and Senate (SB 533) would create an exception, but only for motorcyclists.

The bills would allow a motorcyclist who has stopped and waited through one full light cycle without being detected to proceed though the intersection against the red light.

But for now the law remains clear: no vehicle operator can lawfully pass through a red light, even if the light fails to detect the vehicle.

Charley Gee is an Oregon bicycle attorney.  He practices in Portland with Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton.

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Charley Gee