General Question

flo's avatar

Why do they have right turn on red light in a lot of cities?

Asked by flo (12974points) December 16th, 2016

Edited the question title.
I still don’t get it.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

28 Answers

canidmajor's avatar

If properly executed, it eases up a LOT on traffic congestion.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

When safe to do so, it helps keep traffic moving without causing a lot of back log.
It is a great tool at keeping traffic moving as long as it is done safely.
Some places don’t allow it,and those intersections most times are signed with(no right turn on red)

elbanditoroso's avatar

Traffic flow. There’s often no reason for a person be stopped waiting to turn right, when there is no traffic coming from their left. (or the cross street has protected left turns).

It’s a waste of time and gas to just sit there when you could be moving.

Cruiser's avatar

If I recall correctly it was initiated in the 70’s to help save gasoline. Stopped cars burn gas just sitting still and it was determined the less time cars sat still the less gas they would burn.

flo's avatar

Ok. “How about pedistrians get hit by impatient drivers….” The pedistrians are stopped by the red light, right? Why are they talking about drivers hitting pedistrians?

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Cars coming up to the red DO have to stop on the red, then can proceed with their right turn as long as it is safe to do so,mean no traffic and no pedestrians that could be hit.

Zaku's avatar

Where do they not?

If no one else is coming, they aren’t in the way of anyone. As others have said, it’s stop & yield on red, then may turn, but since it’s just turning a corner without using any other lanes, it doesn’t interfere with anyone else.

janbb's avatar

This is determined by the state, not cities. Some states have right on red; some don’t. New Jersey initiated it about 20 years ago. You have to come to a full stop, then can turn if it is safe to do so. You are required not to hit any crossing pedestrians.

There are also intersections where there is a sign posted that says “No turn on red.”

elbanditoroso's avatar

I had forgotten that this came to pass as a result of the gas crisis in the 1970s – on the east coast. California had been doing it for years.

Why did the east not embrace it earlier? Puritanism ?

janbb's avatar

@elbanditoroso The news traveled more slowly those days. :-)

Rarebear's avatar

It’s not a city thing, but it’s a state thing. All 50 states now allow turning on a red light.

stanleybmanly's avatar

California had the practice in place when I arrived here in 66. It’s also legal here to turn left on a red light after stopping if you are turning from one one-way street into another.

Seek's avatar

It’s allowed in Florida. We have few pedestrians.

You can also turn left on a red on a one way street.

JLeslie's avatar

To keep the traffic moving.

Some American cities have left on red if it’s one way streets as @Seek mentioned.

dappled_leaves's avatar

In Quebec, it is a city thing, not a provincial thing. It’s illegal to turn right on red on the island of Montreal, but off-island (i.e., outside the city proper) it is legal. This saves the lives of pedestrians and (particularly) cyclists. I agree that it’s probably a good idea in other (less populated, less chaotic) regions, as long as everyone knows the rules.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m pretty sure New York City doesn’t allow right turn on red unless a sign is posted saying it’s permitted, while NYS does allow it otherwise. This may have changed, hopefully a New Yorker here will know.

I’m pretty sure my parents, who are originally from NY, still always question whether they can make a right on red when they travel to other states. They never feel comfortable assuming, which is a leftover from NY I think. They’ve lived in Maryland for 35 years, but they still don’t assume.

LostInParadise's avatar

It works well, but one thing that you have to be careful of is if there is a left turn on arrow sign. That arrow may be on for traffic in both directions, so at such times you have to watch for vehicles from the opposite direction making a left turn.

JLeslie's avatar

@LostInParadise Why is that a problem? Unless you are driving outside of your lane on the turn? That’s what too many people do on right and left turns. Drivers are supposed to maintain their lane even on turns.

Left arrows in both directions is way safer and more efficient than when the arrow is with the adjacent lanes of traffic that were continuing in the original direction and not turning.

johnpowell's avatar

It seems logical.

I don’t drive and it has never been a issue on a bike/feet/skateboard.

I just assume it isn’t safe unless I can get confirmation that the driver acknowledges me. I wave and usually they wave back.

JLeslie's avatar

@johnpowell Thank you. Just a couple of weeks ago a woman walked right out into traffic with her bike on a crosswalk. It’s not even a corner, it’s in the middle of the road. The car in front of me stopped short for her and honked. She yelled back, “crosswalk! I have the right of way stupid!” She does have the right of way, but she literally had not stopped at the street, but just walked right into 40 mph traffic on a main road. I don’t care who has the law on their side, you don’t want to wind up dead. I said to my husband, “my mother would have lectured that woman that she needs to make eye contact with the driver and make sure the driver sees her before crossing.” I think a lot of people aren’t taught that.

LostInParadise's avatar

@JLeslie , It can be a problem if there is only one lane.

JLeslie's avatar

@LostInParadise Ah, now I understand what you’re talking about. You’re absolutely right. For a minute there I wasn’t thinking about the right turn on red, totally my mistake, rather I was thinking about traffic facing each other and both making left turns.

jca's avatar

In New York City it’s illegal to make a right on red, unless denoted by a sign (for exceptions).

SecondHandStoke's avatar


Came here to say this.

One visit to NYC and a view of the hordes of pedestrians crossing will explain why it’s illegal.

You can only turn if the light is green and a large enough gap in people crossing happens to present itself.

While waiting for such a gap you wil often hear a horn sound behind you.

This is from a NYC motorist that feels it’s justified for you to kill or maim a pedestrian in order for you to clear the way for the driver behind you, somehow, the only person in a town of 12 million people that’s in a hurry today.

JLeslie's avatar

^^LOL. It is brutal making a turn in NYC, because of the quantity of pedestrians at any given time. Thank goodness a portion are underground or it would be less manageable than it is already.

Pachy's avatar

My question is, why not make it S.O.P. everywhere? It works.

flo's avatar

About the crosswalks, how many drivers are aware of the presence of crosswalks (isn’t a stop sign safer?)in the middle if a street? They don’t even seem to be aware of the ones at the intersections.

elbanditoroso's avatar

My county is really good at crosswalks, particularly in the middle of the block. They have those plastic signs (like this) all over, and particularly near schools.

And my particular county (suburban Atlanta) does a pretty good job at line painting, both for crosswalks and for bike lanes.

But… in some cities, mostly New England and NY – and in particular in the urban area, liek downtown – lines wear off too quickly and/or they just never paint them. (Boston, for example)

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