Social Question

Kraigmo's avatar

Why do so many drivers in USA briefly stop at Green Arrow Right Turn lights?

Asked by Kraigmo (9005points) 3 months ago

There is nowhere in America where you are supposed to stop at a Green Arrow right if you are turning the direction of the arrow.
And yet, a huge percentage of drivers tend to stop, look both ways, and then go…. behaving as if it’s a Red Arrow Light.
Why are they doing this?
You never see people stop and look both ways on a normal Green Light. So why would anyone do it on a Green Right Arrow Light?
Do they think they are being ‘safe’? Are they oblivious to the danger they are causing to people behind them?

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18 Answers

cookieman's avatar

To quickly check the intersection for morons who would blow the light and potentially T-Bone you.

I pause and look around at every intersection, regardless if I have the light for that very reason.

Had my brand new car totaled and my back screwed up for life due to just such a moron.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Check for A . . holes running their red light ! !

Blackwater_Park's avatar

Some A-hole is always running the redlight, better to take a sec and look.

jca2's avatar

People drive like maniacs now, worse than ever before. People run stop signs as if they’re yield signs or maybe the stop signs are just a suggestion. People are texting and not paying attention. I had my car rear-ended twice within a year and a half, both times I was completely stopped at a red light so it wasn’t my fault. I say better safe than sorry and if someone wants to give a glance and stop at a green arrow, it’s fine with me.

Kraigmo's avatar

Re: Watching out for red light runners.
1) If the car before you just went through, then you already know it’s clear
2) Why don’t you use the same logic to stop at all green lights including ones that are regular?

cookieman's avatar


1) Not so. The aforementioned morons can come up quickly. Never assume the coast is clear unless you see it with your own eyes.

2) We’re talking about a brief pause. Not a full on stop. And while I don’t pause at a straight ahead green light, I slowly accelerate while looking all around.

Again, the coast isn’t clear unless you see it yourself.

gorillapaws's avatar

Yielding to pedestrian traffic. In Virginia there are times when you’ll have a green light but must yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk who also have a walk signal.

smudges's avatar

Do they think they are being ‘safe’? Are they oblivious to the danger they are causing to people behind them?

Are the people behind them such morons that they can’t see that you’re stopping? Shame on them.

kritiper's avatar

Can’t say exactly except to say that here in Idaho, it is illegal to turn on a red arrow.

jonsblond's avatar

@gorillapaws is correct. When changing direction it is very important to look at your surroundings.

JLeslie's avatar

Habit, not trusting a green, or what @gorillapaws said about pedestrians depending on the city and ability to see the area where you will be turning before making the turn.

Here in Florida at most intersections you can see the whole area clearly as you approach, because the terrain tends to be flat, streets are straight, and no trees or buildings obstruct your view. It would be odd for people to atop on a right arrow green here, I agree with you in this particular situation. Other cities you have almost no view until you are right on top of where you are going.

In New York City that has heavy pedestrian traffic cars slow to a stop or very close to it on right turns. They don’t have many green right arrows in NYC (I can’t think of any off of the top of my head) but even on regular round greens that means go, you can turn right, but in NYC you would need to slow to an almost stop or actually stop.

jca2's avatar

For me, it depends on a number of factors. Like @JLeslie said, the terrain will affect how I approach the intersection. Also, if it’s one lane in each direction, or a three way intersection, I might go faster than some busy ones where it’s two or three lanes in each direction and more chaotic. If I’m turning right onto a road where those people are turning left onto the road I’m on, I will probably fly through the right because those people turning left are showing me that nothing is coming (which is how they’re enabled to turn left).

If there’s nobody else in front of me, I may hesitate but if I’m in a parade of cars and the green arrow is on, and everyone is flying through, then I’ll fly through in the parade, too.

If it’s a busy intersection or hilly terrain, will probably not come to a total stop, like I would at a stop sign, but yes, I may hesitate (may hesitate, not “will hesitate”) and not barrel through, if it’s a busy one. My point being that for me, there are no hard and fast rules as to when I may or may not hesitate, it depends on a bunch of things. I was out and about the past few days with lots of holiday traffic on busy local roads, and there were a few green arrows so now I’m thinking about the various types of intersections that I encountered.

A little caution is not a bad thing, especially when the majority of accidents on local roads occur at intersections.

SnipSnip's avatar

Safety. Just because it isn’t law doesn’t make it wrong or stupid. I am not bothered by this.

cheebdragon's avatar

There are many reasons why someone may need to stop before making their turn, it’s your own responsibility to maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and theirs that allows you enough time to stop without hitting them.

Forever_Free's avatar

It’s called defensive driving. More people should do this rather than just roll through indiscriminately,
I look right or left for a split second when crossing an intersection and defiantly look before making any turn no matter the signs right of way. People behind them are supposed to give proper distance and control their own vehicle.
Did you know that you are at fault as a driver if someone falls out of a tree onto the road in front of you?
I have driven a lot over my lifetime and wonder how people get in car accidents. I have driven about 1,000,000 miles in my life and have never been in an accident. Not even a parking lot fender bender.
Watching how others drive give me the answer when they drive like they are the only one on the planet.

Entropy's avatar

I don’t really see this behavior unless someone is the first in line. When you’re the first in line after a light change, it’s in your interest to check that the traffic moving in the perpendicular has in fact stopped. A cousin of mine was in a serious t-bone accident because he was quick off the line on a green, and the person coming the other way thought he could run a bit more red than was safe. I don’t think it was a green arrow, but the principle’s the same.

My grandfather had a saying “You can be right and dead at the same time.”

JLeslie's avatar

@Entropy I tell people similar all of the time. What does it matter if you have the right of way if you are seriously harmed or dead.

My driving instructor when I was 15 used to say, “green does not mean go.” He cautioned us to make sure cross traffic was stopped before going when we were first waiting at an intersection, and he said you can’t go if the car in front of you isn’t moving if you are not first.

SABOTEUR's avatar

You’re obviously referring to somewhere other than Baltimore MD where you stop or turn whenever or however you feel like it. Here, traffic lights and stop signs are nothing more than suggestions.

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