Can you always turn right on red?
October 19 2018
As you probably know, it is often legal to turn right on a red light. You simply have to stop like you usually would at the intersection — at the limit line or the crosswalk — and then you can turn right when there is a break in traffic. But can you always turn right on red?
You can’t. There are some exceptions to this rule.
First and foremost, if there is a red arrow, it is illegal to make that turn. A red arrow is not the same as a red light. What it indicates is that the right turns are specifically light-controlled at that intersection. You can only turn if it is green or a flashing yellow. When it turns red, you have to stop and wait, even if the traffic clears.
Another exception is if the intersection has a sign specifically telling you not to turn right on red. Many drivers forget to even check because they are so used to turning. You need to look carefully. Failing to see the sign, or failing to read it, is not an excuse for turning.
Finally, as at any intersection, you must wait if there are pedestrians who are using the crosswalk. Even if the traffic clears and you have properly come to a stop at the line, wait for them to get out of the crosswalk entirely before you turn.
As you can see, driving rules are not always as simple and consistent as you may have assumed. Exceptions can lead to mistakes, which can then lead to tickets. Make sure you know what legal options you have.