Should New York Cities Ban Right Turn On Red?
I can only speak for myself on this subject. I like that in New York State (and all other states as well), right turn on red is legal, except where indicated. But could this convenience be in danger?
The short answer is no, at the moment. But some cities around the USA have banned or are introducing legislation to ban right turn on red on all their roadways. According to the CBS News website, Washington D.C. has approved a ban beginning in 2025. Of course, right turn on red has always been a no-no in New York City.
The report also notes that San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, and Seattle are also considering a ban. Downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan has banned the right turn on red in its downtown district. Of course, New York City has always banned right on red.
I like being able to move on when it's okay. Especially during the time when I come into work, which is the middle of the night. I encounter a few red lights where turning on red is very convenient, rather than waiting for the light to turn green, which in some instances is a long wait (and I'm an impatient person.)
The problem is, that not everyone does it right. You are supposed to come to a complete stop and check traffic, including pedestrians and bicyclists before turning on red. Not everyone does that.
I've seen motorists slowly roll through the red light, and others, that barely slowed down. I've also noted motorists inching up over crosswalks, blocking them, as they wait for a break in traffic to turn right. Because of that, crashes can occur between the turning vehicle, oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists as well.
Right Turn on Red came about nationally in the 1970s and according to the Federal Highway Administration was designed as a fuel savings measure. Unfortunately, it also has caused issues with pedestrians being hit.
While the law requires motorists to come to a full stop and yield to cross street traffic and pedestrians prior to turning right on red, many motorists do not fully comply with the regulations. Motorists are so intent on looking for traffic approaching on their left, that they may not be alert to pedestrians on their right. - Federal Highway Administration
I have to agree. At times, I am looking at oncoming traffic only, rather than the entire surroundings. But would banning turning right on red in New York State really make things for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists much safer?
In an article on the Spectrum New NY 1 website, the Executive Director for Policy at the National Motorists Association, Jay Beeber, notes that it's a fallacy to assume that a ban on turning right on red would make streets safer.
He points to a study from his association that shows crash data from 2011 to 2019 in the State of California revealing about one pedestrian death and less than one bicyclist death every two years.
What are your thoughts? Leave the right turn on red alone, and just ban it at intersections where it is warranted, or ban it altogether?
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