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Turn on red

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French sign indicating to cyclists that they may treat the red light as a yield if turning right
"No right turns on red light" sign in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Turning right on red is forbidden in New York City unless this sign or similar is posted.[1]
In the United States outside New York City,[2] right turns are permitted on red (except for school buses transporting pupils in New York State)[3] unless there is a "No Turn on Red" or a "Right Turn Signal" light indicating the same and controlling the right turn.
"Right turn on red" traffic light in Belgrade, Serbia, right turn only after pedestrians and traffic pass from left

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, depending on the jurisdiction) when the way is clear, without having to wait for a green signal.

North American traffic engineers first introduced this rule as a fuel savings measure in the 1970s, despite detrimental effects to the safety of pedestrians.[4] Canada and The United States are some of few major countries where turning on red is generally allowed.[5] Amid a push to reduce pedestrian fatalities and make cities safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, some American localities have in recent years implemented bans on turning on red.[6][7]


Right on red[edit]

The simplest version 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 that drive on the left side of the road.

A right turn requires checking only two nearby crosswalks (at least one of which will show "don't walk") and vehicular traffic moving towards the driver, while a left turn or going straight requires checking two crosswalks and vehicular traffic moving in multiple directions.

When turning right on red, the vehicle typically has to yield to traffic coming from the left, and the crosswalk parallel to that stream if there is one. If turning right at a three-way junction from a major road onto a minor road, the vehicle has to yield only to the crosswalk since there is no road on the left side. Sometimes, the opposing side has a protected left turn, requiring the vehicle to yield to opposing vehicles turning left, but not any crosswalks. In any case, the vehicle turning right on red has to yield only to one stream of vehicles (out of two possible streams) and zero or one crosswalk.

Many jurisdictions that allow right turns on red will allow it to be done in any lane, including the outer lane of a dual or triple right turn.

In some intersections, allowing a right on red would be unsafe, such as when there is a train running parallel to the road on the right side, synchronized to the traffic light timings. In places where right on red is allowed by default, a sign would be placed to disallow it.

Left on red[edit]

Another version is commonly known as a left turn on red (left on red) in countries that drive on the right side of the road, and would be a right turn on red in countries that drive on the left side of the road, if any allowed it. These turns are typically restricted to turns onto a one-way. Many jurisdictions also require that this type of turn be from a one-way.

However, although right on red is equivalent to left on red to a one-way, left on red is not typically permitted in countries outside North America. Even in North America, few places allow left on red from two-way to one-way streets.

There are rarely some intersections where a left on red from a two-way to two-way is permitted, but this is due to the expected low amount of traffic, rather than being geometrically equivalent to right on red.[8]

From one-way to one-way[edit]

Left turns from a one-way to a one-way are completely geometrically equivalent to a right turn.

Most places in North America allow this type of turn by default.[citation needed] Most places outside of North America disallow this type of turn.[citation needed]

To one-way[edit]

Left turns on red from a two-way to a one-way are the same "difficulty" as a right turn on red, although the reasoning is less obvious. If a right turn is possible, the opposing side might have a green light and protected left turn, allowing the driver to get a permissive left turn (flashing yellow arrow). If the opposing side has a red light (which is the case if a right turn is impossible), or there is no opposing side, the driver has to yield only to vehicles from the right, and possibly the nearby crosswalk. In any case, the driver has to yield to only one stream of traffic (out of two possible streams), and zero or one crosswalk.

Only British Columbia, Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington allow this type of turn by default.


North America[edit]

Right turns on red are permitted in many regions of North America. In the United States, western states have allowed it for more than 50 years,[citation needed][when?] and eastern states amended their traffic laws to allow it in the 1970s as a claimed 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.[9] 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,[10][11] but about 90% of the traffic signals in the state were outfitted with "no turn on red" signs in preparation for the change.[12]) The few exceptions include New York City,[13] where right turns on red are prohibited unless a sign indicates otherwise, and in both Washington, DC and Atlanta, Georgia, which the former will prohibit right turns on red in 2025 and the latter in 2026.[14][15] Further, Seattle requires that all intersections be equipped with "no turn on red" signs when they are updated or modified.[16]

In Alaska,[17] California,[18] Colorado,[19] Georgia,[20] Idaho,[21] Maine,[22] Minnesota,[23] Nebraska, Nevada, New York,[24] North Carolina, Virginia,[25] the District of Columbia,[26] and Puerto Rico,[27] 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. The exception is Pennsylvania where U-turns are allowed unless otherwise specified following the same rule as right on red, drivers making a U-turn are required to yield to all drivers executing legal maneuvers including turning right on red. 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.[citation needed]

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.[28]

"No right on red" sign used in Canada
"No right on red" sign used at entry points to Montreal Island, Quebec, Canada

In 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.[29] Motorists are reminded of this rule by large signs posted at the entrance to all bridges.

In Mexico, right turns on red are generally allowed unless a sign indicates otherwise.[30] Mexico City has implemented a new transit law which prohibits right turns on red.[31]

Left turn on red[edit]

Left turns on red for US states
  Left turns on red from one-way and two-way streets into one-way streets permitted
  Left turns on red from one-way streets into one-way streets permitted
  State prohibits left turns on red

In the U.S., 38 states allow left turns on red only if both the origin and destination streets are one way as of December 2018.[32]

Five states, namely Alaska,[33] Idaho,[34] Michigan,[35] Oregon,[36] and Washington[37] allow left turns on red into a one-way street from either a one-way street or a two-way street.

As of December 2018, the following states and territories ban left turns on red: Connecticut, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota (unless permitted by local ordinance), the District of Columbia, and Guam.[38] New York City prohibits left turn on red unless a sign indicates otherwise.[38]

"No left on red" sign used in Canada (except Quebec)

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 into a one-way road is permitted in British Columbia, even from a two-way road.[39]

Some intersections have signs to indicate that a left turn on red is prohibited. In BC,[40] Alberta,[41] Saskatchewan,[42] Manitoba,[43] and Ontario,[44] the sign for "no left turn" is defined with the line in the red circle flipped compared to other prohibitive signs. Although inconsistent, this allows "no left turn" to be a mirror image of "no right turn". However, in Quebec, the diagonal line is the same as in "no right turn".[45]

Central America[edit]

In Panama, right turns on red are not permitted.[46]

South America[edit]

Right turn on red permitted sign in Chile

In Chile and Brazil, right turns on red are only allowed when a sign permitting it is shown.[citation needed] In Brazil, effective April 14, 2021.


Right turn on red permission sign used in Germany

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).[47]

In Germany, right turns on red are only permitted when a sign is present at the traffic light, after a complete stop. This rule was first introduced in 1978 in East Germany. It was derided as the "socialist right turn" in West Germany, which planned to eliminate it after German reunification in 1990.[48] However, a public backlash put an end to the plans, and the practice spread to the rest of Germany in 1994. Half of the 5,000 turn-on-red intersections that existed in 2002 were located in the former West Germany.[49]

In Switzerland, bicycles and small mopeds (Mofas) are allowed to turn right on certain red lights since 2021.[50] One does not have to come to a complete stop, but must yield to crossing pedestrians and traffic. During a pilot experiment preceding this change, wide acceptance and no accident were observed.[51]

In Slovenia, the same sign as in Germany is used,[52] where vehicles can turn right on a red light at all times, but they don't have the right of way. Some intersections also have a green arrow light, that is lit when right turns are allowed.[53][54] Historically, a different sign with the same meaning was used in the nineteen sixties, a green curved arrow on a small white rectangle board, attached under a traffic light.[55][56]

In Russia, right turns on red are only permitted if 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. However, in some cities, they have allowed turns on right provided there is a fixed green arrow with the writing below saying "Give way to everyone, you can turn on right".[57]

French permissive movement on red light
A traffic signal with a small permanent sign next to the red light. The sign shows a yellow bicycle above a yellow arrow pointing towards the right.
Swiss turn on red sign for bicycles in Basel

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. A sign can also permit cyclists to turn right on red.[58]

In Belgium, road signs that allow cyclists to turn right on a red light have been added to traffic law in 2012.[59] Such roads signs have been placed on intersections in the Brussels Capital Region.[60]

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.[61]

Sign allowing cyclists to turn right on red in France and Belgium

In the United Kingdom, which drives on the left, left turns on red are prohibited. 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.[62] 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 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 were made for reasons of road safety.[63] The green arrows in Lithuania were eliminated on 1 January 2020. Despite the announcement of the date for the elimination of the green arrows in October 2014, many city administrations were not prepared for alternatives, which led to considerable public outrage in January 2020. The government has allowed the return of the green arrows in response to the situation, but each green arrow must be coordinated with the Transportation Literacy Agency. The agency carries out an assessment of a green arrow with regard to traffic safety and traffic capacity.

In Latvia, you are allowed to turn right/left on red when an additional section is present and lit on a traffic light. If the main signal is red and an additional signal is lit, you may pass to the direction of the arrow in the traffic light but you must give way to all traffic (including pedestrians). If the main signal is green and an additional signal is also lit, you may pass to any direction and you must comply with the standard intersection and junction traffic rules. If the main signal is green and the additional signal is not lit, you must not turn to that direction. Logically, if the main signal is red and the additional signal is unlit - you must not pass.

Latvian traffic light with additional sections. While driving both sections should be noted.

In the 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 only permitted if there is a small green flashing light with a right turn arrow. Drivers must yield to pedestrians and oncoming vehicles from their left. In some one-way junctions, the same rule applies for left on red (such as Cluj-Napoca Avram Iancu Square).


Singapore "left turn on red" sign

Similar to many former United Kingdom British Colonies, Hong Kong drives on the left. Left turns on red are always prohibited in Hong Kong.[64] 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.

In China, right turns on red are generally permitted, unless there is a red arrow pointing to the right or otherwise indicated.[citation needed] Proceeding straight on red at T-intersections where the intersecting road went left only used to be legal in Mainland China, with right-hand traffic provided that such movement would not interfere with other traffic, but when the Road Traffic Safety Law of the People's Republic of China took effect on 1 May 2004, such movement was outlawed.[65]

In India, which drives on the left, a "free left turn" is generally prohibited.[66][67] However, some cities specifically permit turning left on a red signal.[68][69] 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.[70]

In Japan, which drives on the left, left turns on red require either a green left arrow signal along with the red light, or a white road sign with a blue left arrow (not to be confused with the one way sign).[71][72]

In the Republic of Korea, right turns on red are permitted after stop, unless signed as prohibited.[73]

In Lebanon, According to the new traffic law article number 69, turning right on red is legal unless there's a red arrow or a sign prohibiting it. [74]

In the Philippines, right turns on red are not explicitly allowed nor disallowed by the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.[75] As such, it is allowed to turn right anytime with care at any traffic signal intersection with a steady red signal, except when there is a visible "no right turn on red" sign or red arrow traffic signal.[76]

In Taiwan, right turns on red are always prohibited, except when there is a green arrow along with the red light. However, the right on red fine in Taiwan is lower than red light running fine.[77]


Australian "left turn on red" sign at traffic lights

In Australia, which drives on the left, left turns on red are only permitted if a sign exists at the intersection. At such intersections, the 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.[78][79] Such signs are only in limited locations in the states of New South Wales, South Australia, Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory and are strictly banned in other states. In New South Wales, a number of tests to the intersection must be met before a turn on red will be permitted, including pedestrian volume, bus stop locations, geometry of the intersection, and the amount of lane changing at the intersection.[80] Queensland previously allowed left turns on red at certain intersections, but was scrapped in 2021 after a trial period found that the safety risk to pedestrians outweighed any time-saving benefits.[81] 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.[82][83]

In Samoa, which drives on the left, left turns on red are permitted.[84] Samoa used to drive on the right and basically follow the US rules of American Samoa, and this rule remained after switching to driving on the left on 7 September 2009.


This table shows the legal status of turns on red in various jurisdictions, where no sign is present or traffic signal explicitly prohibits it. If it is normally allowed, a sign or red arrow might prohibit it. If it is normally disallowed, a sign or arrow might allow it, or the intersection may have a separate slip lane controlled by a yield or give way sign. However, a permissive arrow allowing a right turn (or left onto one-way) after yielding to traffic, possibly after a complete stop, is different from a protected arrow that does not require yielding.

Legal Status of Turns on Red at Unmarked Intersections with Traffic Lights by Country
Country Right (left) Left (right) from one-way to one-way Left (right) to one-way Notes
North America
Canada Canada Yes, except Island of Montreal Yes, except some areas only British Columbia see #North America
United States United States Yes, except New York City Yes, 38 states Yes, 5 states see #North America
Mexico Mexico Yes, except Mexico City No
Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Yes No except school buses and vehicles carrying hazardous materials
Central America
Costa Rica Costa Rica Yes No
Panama Panama No
South America
Argentina Argentina No
Brazil Brazil only if sign permits No signs effective April 14, 2021
Chile Chile only if sign permits No
Colombia Colombia Yes No
Paraguay Paraguay some towns No
Peru Peru No
Uruguay Uruguay No
Austria Austria only if arrow permits No bicycles may turn right on red if an arrow sign permits
Belgium Belgium only if sign permits No larger vehicles may not turn right on red, bicycles may turn right on red if a sign permits
Bulgaria Bulgaria No
Czech Republic Czech Republic only if arrow permits No
France France only if arrow permits No bicycles may turn right on red if a sign permits
Germany Germany only if sign permits No
Denmark Denmark only if sign permits No
Iceland Iceland only if sign permits No
Republic of Ireland Ireland No
Italy Italy No
Lithuania Lithuania only if sign permits No
Latvia Latvia only if arrow permits
Netherlands Netherlands only if sign permits No larger vehicles may not turn right on red, bicycles and mopeds may turn right on red if a sign permits
Poland Poland only if arrow permits No
Romania Romania only if arrow permits No
Russia Russia only if sign or arrow permits No
Slovakia Slovakia only if arrow permits No
Slovenia Slovenia only if sign permits No
Serbia Serbia only if arrow permits No
Spain Spain only if arrow permits No
United Kingdom United Kingdom No
China China Yes No
Hong Kong Hong Kong (SAR) No
Macau Macau (SAR) No
South Korea South Korea Yes No
India India some cities No
Japan Japan only if sign permits No
Lebanon Lebanon Yes No
Malaysia Malaysia only if sign permits No signs only in Sarawak and Putrajaya
Philippines Philippines Yes No
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia Yes No
Singapore Singapore only if sign permits No
Taiwan Taiwan only if arrow permits No
Thailand Thailand Yes No
Angola Angola No
Botswana Botswana No
Mauritius Mauritius only if sign permits No
Mozambique Mozambique No
South Africa South Africa No
Zambia Zambia No
Zimbabwe Zimbabwe No
Australia Australia only if sign permits No
New Zealand New Zealand No
Samoa Samoa Yes No

Pedestrian and bicyclist safety[edit]

A 1981 US Department of Transportation study determined that the frequency of motor vehicle collisions with bicyclists and pedestrians when the vehicle was turning right increased significantly after the adoption of "Western RTOR". According to that study "Estimates of the magnitude of the increases ranged from 43% to 107% for pedestrian accidents and 72% to 123% for bicyclist accidents." These RTOR accidents were between 1% and 3% of all pedestrian and bicycle accidents in the locations that were studied.[85]

A 1984 study found that where RTOR was allowed "all right-turning crashes increase by about 23%, pedestrian crashes by about 60%, and bicyclist crashes by about 100%."[86] A 1993 study also concluded that RTOR increased crashes for pedestrians and cyclists, by 44% and 59% respectively.[87]

For the 1982–1992 period, a National Highway Safety Commission report estimated that total fatal crashes in the U.S. involving vehicles making a right turn on red, were between 0 and 84, and probably toward the lower end of the range.[88]

A February 2002 study published in the ITE Journal concluded that "Prohibiting right turn on red would require drivers to turn on green. This would most likely increase the number of collisions by right turning vehicles."[89][90]

A 2009 study by The New York City Department of Transportation of injuries before and after right turn on red was allowed at specific intersections concluded that the change had not affected accident rates.[91]

See also[edit]


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