Posted by: safedriver | August 7, 2014

Turning left on a red light?

IMG_20140807_104856If you think about it, there are a lot of rules to learn when you’re learning how to drive. I’ve had many people ask me if certain rules still applied as they did when they first learned to drive. Sometimes, what they thought was a rule never was. Perhaps they were given wrong advice or what they thought they were told wasn’t exactly what they remembered. However, there are some rules that some drivers were never really taught. Did you know you can turn left on a red light in many jurisdictions?

Most of us already know that turning right on a red light is common practice in many jurisdictions. The rules still apply; come to a legal stop, look for a sign that may prohibit such a turn, yield to pedestrians and other vehicles, proceed when safe to do so. Simple enough, right? The purpose of this is to help keep traffic moving along to help reduce congestion. Visibility is a huge part of whether it’s allowed at certain intersections. For the same reasons, left turns at red lights are also allowed. But there are still some rules which need to be followed.

For those jurisdictions where it’s allowed, it’s usually permitted when you’re turning left from a one way street onto another one way street. If you think about it, it’s like making a right turn on a red light – but in a mirror image. You start from the lane closest to the curb. You begin turning when the curb begins to turn. You enter the first lane around the corner, closest to the curb. Sounds like a right turn, correct? And it also sounds like a left turn from a one way street onto another one way street.

There are some jurisdictions which also allow left turns at a red light from a one way street onto a two way street. Those can be a little trickier, but fully legal. Again, you must stop legally at the red light before proceeding. You must also look for a sign that prohibits the turn, yield right of way to those with a green light and proceed when safe to do so. To find out if it’s legal in your jurisdiction, check with your local authorities.

Knowing the rules of where you drive not only allows you to remain free of violations, but can also help traffic to keep moving along in a safe manner…including yourself.

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Responses

  1. In Washington State it’s legal to turn left on a red light, if it’s safe, from a two-way to a one-way street. These one-way streets are commonly seen as freeway on-ramps.

    RCW 46.61.055
    3 (a) Vehicle operators facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection control area and shall remain standing until an indication to proceed is shown. However, the vehicle operators facing a steady circular red signal may, after stopping proceed to make a right turn from a one-way or two-way street into a two-way street or into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the right turn; *********or a left turn from a one-way or two-way street into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the left turn; ********** unless a sign posted by competent authority prohibits such movement. Vehicle operators planning to make such turns shall remain stopped to allow other vehicles lawfully within or approaching the intersection control area to complete their movements. Vehicle operators planning to make such turns shall also remain stopped for pedestrians who are lawfully within the intersection control area as required by RCW 46.61.235(1).

    • Thanks for the detailed reply Bridget!

  2. […] light is, well I did not think about it until I read an article about this topic on the website. The Safe Driver and another reason is I think this maneuver is unsafe for inexperienced drivers, so I did not want […]


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