Will Right Turns on Red Be Outlawed?

Bicycle and pedestrian deaths caused by motor vehicles have risen substantially over the past decade. The sharp rise in these accidents has sent safety experts scrambling for ways to reduce these tragedies. Of the suggested solutions, few have created as much controversy as the recommendation to ban the practice of turning right on a red light.

An Intermittent Right

Turning right on red is not a universal practice. Most cities have intersections where signs prevent these turns. Some cities have banned these turns entirely, and others are considering restricting them.

It’s worth considering that the safety of turning right on red is harmed by this piecemeal approach. Banning all right turns on red would remove the burden of making this safety assessment on a case-by-case basis.

The Questionable History of Right Turns on Red

Right turns on red is largely a North American phenomenon. In South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, this type of turn (or left on red in countries that drive on the left) are assumed to be illegal unless a sign or light specifically allows them.

These turns were made legal throughout the U.S. as part of a 1970s push to save fuel by reducing the number of cars that were stuck idling unnecessarily. New York City and most of Massachusetts continued to prohibit turning right on a red light through the widespread use of signs declaring it illegal. In other states, the practice was not approved because it was found to be safe, it was made legal in a failed attempt to save gas.

A Change for Change’s Sake?

Opponents of these bans argue that they will be ineffective. The people calling for a ban are not citing a study or any evidence that a significant portion of bicycle and pedestrian deaths are caused by right turns on red. Without relevant data, a ban could add inconvenience without any corresponding improvement in safety.

The desire to do something about these tragic deaths is understandable, but instituting a misguided policy is not the answer.

Ignoring the Real Problem?

The Governors Highway Safety Association issued a report on 2022 pedestrian deaths. This report indicated that rising pedestrian accidents in general were the result of larger vehicles with larger blind spots. Trucks and SUVs are far more common than they once were. The average vehicle is also much heavier than it was in the past. This may naturally lead to a greater likelihood that a pedestrian struck will suffer serious, even fatal injuries.

Call an Experienced Texas Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you have been injured in a pedestrian or bicycle accident involving a motor vehicle, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. At The Fell Law Firm, our experienced team can help you get the answers you need. Call 972-450-1418 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our Dallas offices.

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