Why More Cities Are Banning Right-on-Red Turns

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A red traffic light can quickly deflate even the happiest of drivers during the average trip – especially if you are already running behind schedule. Most drivers view the right-on-red turn as a golden opportunity to save time and reach your desired destination that much sooner. However, your city may soon ban right-on-red turns – if they have not done so already. Below is an overview of the right-on-red turns and the different factors that contribute to this ban.

When Did Right-on-Red Turns Start?

Source: Dan Hartzell

Many people do not know that Oregon was the first state in the United States to implement the right-on-red turn in 1971. It expanded state by state over the next decade to the point where it was widely recognized nationwide by the early 1980s. It is important to note that the right-on-red turn does not allow you to make a rolling stop. Even in the states that have not yet banned this privilege, making a complete stop at the light is still required.

What Role Did Fuel Savings Have in Right-on-Red Turns?

Source: Pixabay/Jiri Forhlich

Studies have shown that being able to make turns on red lights can lead to significant savings in fuel costs and boost the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. How? When you are basically parked at a red light, your vehicle is still burning fuel even though it is idle. There are also the added benefits of improved flow of traffic and a decrease of stop & start driving. However, safety is still the top concern and varies depending on local laws and regulations.

Why is a Complete Stop Required at Right-on-Red Turns?

Source: Pexels/Pixabay – Stop Sign

All drivers are required to make a complete stop at a red light. This rule still applies in those areas where right-on-red turns are still allowed. A common misconception is that a right-on-red turn can be treated as a yield sign – which is why is it easy to assume that a rolling stop will suffice. Rolling through a right-on-red turn is still a violation of traffic laws, which can lead to an embarrassing traffic stop and perhaps a hefty fine and/or mandated courtroom visit.

How Does Clear Visibility Impact a Right-on-Red Turn?

Source: Pixabay/5033181 – Steering Wheel

One of the main reasons why quite a few areas have banned the right-on-red turn is due to the lack of clear visibility at certain intersections. Not all intersections provide you the high level of visibility that you and other drivers need to make safe turns at busy intersections. You must be able to have a clear line of sight to the left to watch out for oncoming traffic. In some areas where that clear visibility is impractical or even impossible, it is understandable why the right-on-red turn option is eliminated.

Do Right-on-Red Turns Cause Car Crashes?

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In general, right-on-red turns do not cause automobile accidents. However, the abuse of this provision can quickly lead to these tragic experiences. For instance, drivers who fail to yield to the right-of-way at these intersections can quickly end up colliding with another vehicle. There is also the chance of misjudging oncoming traffic – especially for those drivers who mistakenly assume that they are clear on the left side.

Why Are Busy Intersections So Dangerous for Right-on-Red Turns?

Source: Pixabay/Adrian Malec

There are several key factors that must be considered when making a right-on-red turn in a busy intersection. For example, complex intersections with varied traffic patterns and multiple lanes can quickly complicate a relatively simple turn. Depending on your location, there are also intersections that are not properly signalized that essentially become accident magnets. When you add in factors otherwise unrelated – such as challenged visibility and impaired driving – this formula quickly leads to disaster and chaos.

What if You Get a Police Ticket After Making a Right-on-Red Turn?

Source: Pixabay/Erika Wittlieb

If you violate the right-on-red turn ban or make any type of illegal turn for that matter, you are at risk of experiencing a traffic stop. Law enforcement officers are trained and instructed to enforce all restrictions associated with traffic laws – including illegal turns. Keep in mind that officers regularly patrol busy intersections; some even have automated enforcement tools that do not even require them to be in person to issue these penalties and fines. If you get a police ticket, you can still challenge the charge(s) in court – perhaps by presenting arguments or evidence showing that your turn was legal or that the signage was unclear.

Are Bicyclist Accidents the Reason for Banning Right-on-Red Turns?

Source: Pexels/Tima Miroshnichenko

Accidents involving bicyclists and bicycle lanes could very well be considered a contributory reason for some areas to ban right-on-red turns. However, there are many other factors that bear the burden as well. To ensure safety on the road, drivers should avoid blocking nearby bicycle crossings with their vehicles. It is also recommended to pay close attention to blind spots and use your turn signal regularly – especially when you are approaching an area that commonly caters to bicyclists. Doing so will raise the odds of you and the bicyclists near your vehicle being able to make it to your destination safely.

How Can Right-on-Red Turn Bans Protect Pedestrians?

Source: Pixabay/12138562O – Pedestrians Walking

Drivers killed over 7,500 pedestrians in the United States in 2022 alone, according to NPR. That is an average of more than 20 lives lost daily. It makes sense why pedestrian safety has been emphasized throughout the country and played a major role in the prohibition of right-on-red turns. It is vital for drivers to pay close attention and stay alert – especially at busy intersections. Keep in mind that most intersections have crosswalks that give pedestrians the right-of-way. Not leaving ample space for bicyclists and pedestrians has led to an increasing number of preventable tragedies with each passing year.

Did Distracted Drivers Cause the Ban on Right-on-Red Turns?

Source: Pexels/Peter Fazekas

Distracted drivers are the cause of nearly 3,000 fatalities each year, according to Forbes. Busy intersections are magnets for chaos when distracted drivers are involved. From head-on collisions and crossed medians to sideswipes and ignored blind spot crashes, these tragedies typically boil down to just a few seconds where the driver’s focus shifted away from the road. As mentioned, right-on-red turns are easy to roll through and treat as a yield sign. However, by not obeying traffic laws and complying with applicable bans (such as right-on-red turns and other illegal turns, depending on your area), you may be putting your life and the lives of others at great risk.

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Charlotte Clad

Written by Charlotte Clad

Charlotte Clad is a brilliant writer who possesses the remarkable ability to craft content that goes viral and leaves an indelible mark on readers. With an innate passion for storytelling and an unwavering commitment to her craft, Charlotte has consistently pushed the boundaries of creativity to captivate audiences worldwide.

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