Are Right Turns on Red Dangerous for Pedestrians and Bicyclists?
Are Right Turns on Red Dangerous for Pedestrians and Bicyclists?

In the U.S., drivers are used to being able to make a right hand turn at a red light. In every city except for New York City, this is a perfectly legal maneuver unless prohibited by signage. However, it wasn’t always this way. In fact, it was not until the 1970s that right turns on red became a common allowance across the country. In 1975, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act required states to allow drivers to turn right on red in order to receive certain federal funding—spurring a nationwide acceptance of this driving maneuver.

The move to allow right turns at red lights did help to save on gas, but what effect did it have on public safety? Studies on the subject are scarce, but the existing research does show that allowing right turns on red endangers pedestrians and bikers on the road. In fact, one study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed that rights on red increased pedestrian crashes by 60% and bike crashes by 100%.

During an 11-year study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 924 people were killed in crashes involving a driver turning right on red. More than 500 of the victims were pedestrians or bicyclists.

Should Right Turns on Red Always be Allowed?

This begs the question of whether right turns on red should be an acceptable maneuver, especially in densely populated urban areas where pedestrians are plentiful. Unfortunately, the choice to allow right turns on red across the U.S. forfeited safety for the sake of efficiency. It will be a difficult choice to come back from, as roads are now generally designed to allow for rights on red.

“If you are making a right turn on red, always be conscious of any pedestrians or bicyclists who may be in your path, and wait until they are safely out of the way before turning,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.

Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured in an auto accident and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, El Centro, and Yucca Valley, and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.

DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

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