Should US Cities Stop Letting Drivers Turn Right on Red?

Should US Cities Ban the Ability To Turn Right on Red?

( – There are many unspoken road rules that drivers abide by every day. For example, unless stated, all states allow vehicle operators to turn right on red, a practice states have permitted since 1980, with exceptions at certain intersections. However, the practice has led to many devastating accidents and deaths, and now, people are pushing to ban the move, sparking a larger conversation. As with any issue, there are two sides to the issue — those who favor the ban and those who argue it will simply add to drivers’ frustrations.

Some Regions Push for Change

In the 1970s, the government advocated for drivers to turn right on red, arguing that idling at a stop light would add to the energy crisis. Therefore, permitting them to turn — with care — also removed barriers to federal funding.

Some locales prohibit turning on a red light, such as New York City, which always has an immense amount of traffic and even more pedestrians, and Ann Arbor, Michigan. The rule stuck in most places for decades, but now, people are looking at the situation differently.

In 2022, the Washington, DC, City Council approved a right-on-red ban to keep its residents safer. Other regions have pushed for similar changes. San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles, and Chicago are considering following in DC’s footsteps, but officials pushing for change are meeting roadblocks.

Two Sides to the Issue

Proponents of change argue that today’s vehicles — such as pick-up trucks and SUVs — are much larger than in years prior. NBC News reported that bigger cars have reportedly led to more injuries and deaths, according to Mike McGinn, the executive director of America Walks, a nonprofit in favor of pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, because the vehicles run people over rather than forcing them to fold over the hood. Often, the larger vehicles also offer less visibility for pedestrians.

Jay Beeber, executive policy director of the National Motorists Association, told CBS News that those pushing for the change are merely trying “to make driving as miserable and difficult as possible” to keep drivers off the road. Critics have also voiced concerns that banning the practice will lead to public transportation slowdowns and longer delivery times as those delivering parcels would have to abide by new red light rules.

Yet cyclists like Sophee Langerman, who ironically was on her way to a safety rally when a vehicle slammed into her bicycle, believe it’s more than past time to change the laws. Langerman opined that busy, distracted drivers shouldn’t “have the option to decide” when it’s safe to turn right on a red light, according to CBS News.

Copyright 2023,