Washington D.C. Bans Right Turns at Red Traffic Lights

Since the 1970’s it has been common practice to make a right turn on a red light at an intersection. However, a new law to be passed in the District of Columbia will reverse this practice by prohibiting right turns on red by 2025.

The Safer Streets Amendment Act of 2022 was passed by the District of Columbia’s council as part of a larger collection of traffic safety measures that bans right turns on red lights at 50 downtown intersections. Colin Brooke, communications director for the Washington Area Bicyclists Association, says banning right turns on red lights is meant for the safety of pedestrians.

Right turns on red are believed to be hazardous to pedestrians because drivers are more focused on traffic coming from the left before making the turn, than pedestrians crossing the crosswalk.

This bill does not guarantee that all right turns on all red lights in Washington DC will be banned after 2025. The district’s Transportation department authority will analyze and evaluate which intersections where a right turn on red would be deemed safe.

“In negotiating the bill, the agency told us that it would be likely there would be (such) locations,” says Councilwoman Cheh, “however, I am not aware of any specific intersections.”

This law also opens the possibility of reversing the practice of right turns on red lights at a grander scale, mainly in urban areas where there is a greater population of pedestrians and cyclists.

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