Turn on red
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In countries where one drives on the left, replace "right turn" with "left turn" and vice versa.
For left turn on red in right-side-drive countries, and right turn on red in left-side-drive countries, see #Left turn on red in countries with right hand traffic (turning across traffic) below.
A turn on red is a principle of law permitting vehicles at a traffic light showing a red signal to turn into the direction of traffic nearer to them (almost always after a complete stop) when the way is clear, without having to wait for a green signal. It is intended to allow traffic to resume moving, with minimal risk provided that proper caution is observed.
It is commonly known as a right turn on red (or simply right on red) in countries that drive on the right side of the road, or a left turn on red in countries which drive on the left side of the road.
Right turns on red are permitted in many regions of North America. While Western states have allowed it for more than 50 years; eastern states amended their traffic laws to allow it in the 1970s as a fuel-saving measure in response to motor fuel shortages in 1973. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 required in §362(c)(5) that in order for a state to receive federal assistance in developing mandated conservation programs, they must permit right turns on red lights. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico have allowed right turns on red since 1980, except where prohibited by a sign or where right turns are controlled by dedicated traffic lights. (The last state with a right-on-red ban, Massachusetts, ended its ban on January 1, 1980.) The few exceptions include New York City, where right turns on red are prohibited, unless a sign indicates otherwise.
In some states, such as New York, Virginia, North Carolina, Nebraska, and California, a right turn on red is prohibited when a red arrow is displayed.
At intersections where U-turns are permitted and controlled by a U-turn arrow from the left-most lane, motorists turning right on red onto the same road must yield to those making U-turns before turning, as the motorists making U-turns have the right of way and a collision could easily occur. At intersections where U-turns are prohibited in the same fashion, a green right turn arrow will sometimes appear for those turning right onto the road, allowing only traffic turning right to proceed without having to stop or yield to other vehicles or pedestrians. Some states such as California have "No U-Turn" signs posted at these intersections because of the green right turn arrow.
Most Caribbean countries with right-hand traffic, such as the Dominican Republic, allow right turn on red unless a sign prohibits it. Some vehicles, such as those carrying hazardous materials and school buses, are not allowed to turn on red under any circumstance and must wait for a green light or arrow.
During 1982–1992, approximately 84 fatal crashes per year occurred in the U.S. where a vehicle was turning right at intersections where right turn on red was permitted. As of 1992, right turn on red is governed federally by 42 U.S.C. § 6322(c) ("Each proposed State energy conservation plan to be eligible for Federal assistance under this part shall include: ...(5) a traffic law or regulation which, to the maximum extent practicable consistent with safety, permits the operator of a motor vehicle to turn such vehicle right at a red stop light after stopping, and to turn such vehicle left from a one-way street onto a one-way street at a red light after stopping."). All turns on red are forbidden in New York City unless a sign is posted permitting it.
Through most of Canada, a driver may turn right at a red light after coming to a complete stop unless a sign indicates otherwise. In the province of Quebec, turning right on a red was illegal until a pilot study carried out in 2003 showed that the right turn on red manoeuvre did not result in significantly more accidents. Subsequent to the study, the Province of Quebec now allows right turns on red except where prohibited by a sign. However, like in New York City, it remains illegal to turn right on a red anywhere on the Island of Montreal. Motorists are reminded of this by large signs posted at the entrance to all bridges.
In Mexico, right turns on red are generally allowed unless a sign indicates otherwise. Mexico City has implemented a new transit law which prohibits right turns and motorists can be issued a citation for noncompliance.
In Costa Rica, right turns on red are allowed in general, but a sign can forbid them.
In Chile, right turns on red are only allowed when a sign permitting it is shown.
In Paraguay, right turns on red are allowed in some towns.
In the European Union member states in general, it is illegal to turn on a red light, unless it is indicated otherwise, for example by a green arrow on a red light, a flashing amber arrow with a red light or a permanent green board next to the red light.
In Poland, right turns on red are permitted, only if an additional green arrow light (apart from the main signal light) is present and lit. However, the regulations require drivers to stop completely, as their paths intersect with other vehicles or pedestrians in at least one direction. Green arrow light can be also directed left (the same regulations apply).
In Germany, right turns on red are only permitted, after a complete stop, when a specific sign is present. This rule was first introduced in 1978 in East Germany and was originally supposed to become obsolete together with the East German highway code by the end of 1990, following German reunification. However, authorities were unable to remove the signs in time, and public opinion caused them to leave the regulation unchanged, even extending its scope to the areas of the former West Germany in 1994. By 1999, there were 300 turn-on-red intersections on the territory of the former West Germany while that of the former East Germany featured 2,500. However, the numbers in the former West Germany have risen considerably since then and as of 2002 a total of 5,000 turn-on-red intersections were counted, representing 48% of the national total.
This section needs to be updated.(June 2014)
In Russia, turns on red are prohibited unless a separate arrow-shaped green light allows it; drivers must give way to any vehicle coming from a different direction. When the arrow is not lit, turns in the arrow direction are prohibited.
In the Netherlands, bicycles are occasionally allowed to turn right on a red light (assuming that the design of the junction is such that the light is even applicable to right turning cyclists, which it often is not in the Netherlands). Wherever this is the case, a sign "rechtsaf voor fietsers vrij" (right turn free for cyclists) or "rechtsaf voor (brom)fietsers vrij" (right turn free for cyclists and mopeds) is present.
In France a right turn on red without stopping is allowed when a separate arrow-shaped amber light flashes, but drivers do not have priority. They must check if any pedestrians are crossing before turning and must give way to vehicles coming from other directions.. In France, cyclists are permitted to turn right on red if a sign indicates it.
In Belgium, road signs that allow cyclists to turn right on a red light have been added to traffic law in 2012. Such roads signs have been placed on intersections in the Brussels Capital Region.
Like in the Netherlands, Belgium and France have a road sign that allows cyclists to turn right on a red light. The French and Belgian signs consist of a yield sign with a yellow bike and arrow inside. Such signs are placed under traffic lights.
In the United Kingdom, which drives on the left, left turn on red is prohibited, but at some junctions there is a separate left arrow-shaped green "filter" light which, when lit, allows left-hand turns but conflicting traffic will always have a red signal. Other non conflicting traffic movements may have their own left or right arrow-shaped green light. Sometimes there are specific lanes without signals for turning left, separated from the through traffic signalled traffic by traffic islands, but give way signs are installed.
In the Republic of Ireland, which drives on the left, left turns on red are prohibited.
In Lithuania, drivers are allowed to turn right on red when a particular sign with a green arrow on a white background is mounted beside the red light of the traffic signal. However, on 10 November 2014, national traffic rules were altered meaning that this sign will be valid only until 31 December 2019 at the latest, by which time all such signs will have been eliminated. These changes for reasons of road safety.
In Czech Republic and Slovakia right turns on red are allowed only when there is a lit green arrow present (called S 5 in Czech Republic and S 10 in Slovakia). Also in this case the car turning on red must give way to ongoing traffic, to pedestrians and other road users. (According to Czech law §70 of decree 30/2001 of Law Codex; and Slovak law §9, part 3g, decree 9/2009 of Law Codex)
In Romania, right turns on red are prohibited, except when there is a small green flashing light with a right turn arrow. Drivers must yeld to pedestrians. In some one-way junctions, the same rule applies for left on red (such as Cluj-Napoca Avram Iancu Square).
In Bulgaria, right turns on red are prohibited.
In Spain, right turns on red are allowed only if there's either a flashing amber or lit green arrow-shaped traffic light. Flashing amber arrow allows turning without priority (turn must be done exercising caution, giving way to any other vehicles and pedestrians that may cross the path), while a lit green arrow grants priority. If just a regular set of traffic lights is present (no light arrows), then turning on red is prohibited.
In Iceland, right turn on red is allowed only when the "Hægri Kveiktu á Rauðum" sign is displayed at the traffic junction. The driver will have to stop at the red light first and give way to pedestrians and oncoming vehicles from their left before turning.
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As in the United Kingdom, left turn on red is always prohibited in Hong Kong. At some junctions, however, there may be separate sets of signals for left turns, or specific lanes for turning left separating from the through traffic by traffic islands and give way signs are installed. One such example is at the junction of Queen's Road East and Morrison Hill Road.
In India, which drives on the left, a "free left turn" is generally prohibited. However, some cities specifically permit turning left on a red signal. An explicit green or blinking orange left signal also permits a turn on red, which usually means that conflicting traffic is not permitted to enter the same road.
In Japan, which drives on the left, the only left turn allowed requires a green left arrow along with the red light.
In Singapore, which drives on the left, left turn on red is allowed only when the "Left Turn On Red" sign is displayed at the traffic junction. The driver will have to stop at the red light first and give way to pedestrians and oncoming vehicles from their right before turning.
In Taiwan, right turn on red is always prohibited, except when there is a green arrow along with the red light.
In Thailand, which drives on the left, left turn on red is allowed unless a sign prohibits it.
In Saudi Arabia, right turn on red is generally permitted, unless there is a dedicated slip lane for right turn.
In Lebanon, unless sign or a red arrow prohibits it, right turning on red is permitted after coming to a full stop to give way to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.
In Australia, which drives on the left, left turns on red are not permitted unless a sign indicating otherwise exists at the intersection. At such intersections, a sign generally reads "left turn on red permitted after stopping," meaning a vehicle can make a left turn only after coming to a complete stop first and giving way to approaching traffic and any crossing pedestrians or cyclists. These intersections often take the form of a slip lane.
Such signs are only in limited locations in the states of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia as well as the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory and are banned in other states. In South Australia, there were just 6 such intersections allowing turns on red in the entire state as of 2016. There are conflicting views on the policy of left turns on red, with supporters pointing to lower vehicle emission and time savings, while opponents cite safety concerns.
In New Zealand, which drives on the left, left turns on red are not permitted. However, some intersections have a slip lane passing to the left of the traffic light that then joins on to the main road with a give way sign, effectively allowing a left turn on red.
Turns on red are especially problematic for pedestrians due to drivers looking left for traffic on red light and not noticing a pedestrian waiting to cross the street to the driver's right. This may lead to a "right hook" collision when the driver and pedestrian both enter the intersection. Right on red reduces perceived safety for pedestrians and hence walkability. Suburbanization and car oriented development of the west has been a driving force behind right turn on red, although in some downtown core areas even in Western US right on red is explicitly prohibited with signs.
Left turn on red in countries with right hand traffic (turning across traffic)
The following states and territories ban left turns on red: South Dakota (unless permitted by local ordinance), Connecticut, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, the District of Columbia, and Guam. New York City also prohibits left turn on red lights, unless a sign indicates otherwise.
In Canada, left turn on red light from a one-way road into a one-way road is permitted except in some areas of Quebec, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Left turn on red light from a two-way road into a one-way road is permitted in British Columbia after yielding to pedestrians and cross traffic.
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