Right Turn on Red

red lightIf you have not commented on right turns at red lights you might want to consider it. I see so many people that fail to stop at a red light when turning right. They seem to feel that all they have to do is yield. Unless the rules have changed, it requires a full stop before turning.

The reader is correct. If you wish to turn right at an intersection where a red light is displayed you may do so if it is not prohibited by a sign. You must have come to a complete stop at the stop line, crosswalk or before interfering with cross traffic as the case may be and yielded to any cross traffic that might be present. Having done all of this, you may then turn right.

Beware, while this is allowed in British Columbia, it may not be the case in other states and provinces. Check the local rules before you attempt this elsewhere!

Is it any wonder that more than 50% of crashes in our province occur at an intersection? Drivers that fail to follow the rules to save time put us all at risk, especially if we are pedestrians.

Is it worth the couple of seconds saved if the action results in a collision? The possibilty of a "T-bone" is high in a case like this. I don't know about you, but my driver's door doesn't seem anywhere near strong enough to prevent another vehicle from intruding into the passenger compartment and causing significant injury to me.



right turn on red

I believe only Quebec prohibits right turns on red.

To be candid, I don't really worry about people who fail to come to a full stop at stop signs, or before turning right on a red.

Here's why: when visiting the Netherlands 10 years ago, I discovered that stop signs are *only* used at intersections with sight line problems - where motorists have difficulty seeing clearly without coming to a full stop first. Otherwise, at non-signalized intersections, "yield" signs are used at least 95% of the time. There is no mayhem as a result.

I have concluded that, the law notwithstanding, failing to come to a full stop at a stop sign rarely constitutes an actual safety hazard. Additionally, I believe that 95% of stop signs are unnecessary to traffic safety and could reasonably be replaced with yield signs. This would save fuel, reduce emissions, and reduce tire and brake wear.

On edit - traffic circles or roundabouts are the ideal substitutes for stop signs and traffic lights, especially because they seem to greatly diminish the potential for severe collisions.

Further to that, do realize

Further to that, do realize that rolling slowly across a stop line without coming to a complete stop allows you to do so with your foot on the brake. This means you can stop nearly instantaneously, and any accidental movement is unlike to cause you to suddenly lurch into the intersection if you're still edging out to ensure that it's safe to proceed.

I have to disagree about roundabouts, solely because most of the traffic engineering of that sort I've seen in BC has been so poorly thought-out in terms of sight lines, maneuverability, etc., that allowing more of these ill-informed projects is a recipe for disaster. Having yield signs in place of stop signs, however, is an excellent suggestion, although it's likely to be taken as some sort of affront to pedestrians' rights by some reactionary individuals out there.

Two Right Turn Lanes on a Red Light

Hi there,

On the North Shore, when driving south on Capilano Road and approaching Marine Drive, the two rightmost lanes have "right turn only" arrows and there are no signs visible forbidding right turns on a red light. I've noticed that at a red light, poeple in the curb lane will proceed to make a right turn when it is safe to do so, but can people in the other right turn only lane also turn on a red? There seems to be a lot of confusion here with some cars going and some not. Myself, I'll be honest and say that I am not sure what the rule is. Thanks very much.


Who Goes There?

Here's the intersection under discussion:

Section 165 MVA governs the turning position:

Turning at intersections

165   (1) If the driver of a vehicle intends to turn it to the right at an intersection, the driver must cause it to approach the intersection and then make the turn as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway.

(4) If at an intersection there is a traffic control device indicating the course to be travelled by vehicles turning at the intersection, a driver must turn a vehicle at the intersection in the manner directed by the traffic control device.

Normally you would have to be in the curb lane, but because the signage requires a right turn from both lanes subsection 4 removes that onus.

The ability to turn right on a red light comes from section 129 MVA:

Red light

129   (1) Subject to subsection (2), when a red light alone is exhibited at an intersection by a traffic control signal, the driver of a vehicle approaching the intersection and facing the red light must cause it to stop before entering the marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no marked crosswalk, before entering the intersection, and subject to the provisions of subsection (3), must not cause the vehicle to proceed until a traffic control signal instructs the driver that he or she is permitted to do so.

(3) Despite subsection (1), and except when a right turn permitted by this subsection is prohibited by a sign at an intersection, the driver of a vehicle facing the red light, and which in obedience to it is stopped as closely as practicable to a marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no marked crosswalk, as closely as practicable to the intersection, may cause the vehicle to make a right turn, but the driver must yield the right of way to all pedestrians and vehicles lawfully proceeding as directed by the signal at the intersection.

It says that if you stop as required and yield as necessary, you can turn right. So, with caution, drivers in both of those right turn lanes could turn on the red signal.

Excellent and thorough

Excellent and thorough answer, thank you!

Double turn lanes & turns on red

The Capilano & Marine turn is a good example of a challenging right turn on red (when you're in the outer lane), particularly these days when there's an initial bus lane at the curb on Marine which most drivers can't enter. So determining the proper arc to complete the turn in without interfering with adjacent turning vehicles is essential.

But meanwhile, what about left turns on red? They're allowed here in BC, when you're turning into a one way street (and no, it doesn't matter whether you're turning from a one way street). Fact is, potential conflicts are reduced when turning left on a red.

The best 'equivalent' left turn on a red would be from southbound Thurlow into eastbound Nelson. And that one is much simpler, in terms of figuring out potential conflicts.

A block over, where one can turn left from Burrard into Nelson (apart from a sign prohibiting this at certain times of day) requires accute comprehension of the potential hazards of turning left, be it on a green arrow, a solid green, or a red light. It's worth noting where the 'staggered' stop lines are painted there also; but as noted by our site host in a separate item recently, there's nothing in law that mandates you have to remain behind the stop line, so long as you don't get into a conflict with vehicles or pedestrians.

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