Right Turn on Red: 3 Things to Know

Right Turn on Red 3 Things to Know | 911 Driving School

“To turn, or not to turn?” that is the question that many drivers have on their minds as they approach a red light. Unless specifically marked otherwise, turning right at a red light is legal. Just because it is legal though, doesn’t mean this is a free pass to turn if at an intersection. Drivers should make sure that the conditions are right. To keep everyone safe, there are three general principles to follow before entering the intersection.

1. Come to a Complete Stop.

Whenever you approach a red light, you should always come to a full and complete stop. Even if you can see that there is no oncoming traffic and you could turn, the law requires you to stop and look.

If you have a red light, that means someone else has a green light and they have the right of way, probably not watching for people to pull out. Even if no one was there as you pulled up, someone might have pulled out into traffic.

It is common for other vehicles to block your view of oncoming traffic too, limiting your view of possible incidents. Instead of doing a slow roll into the lane of traffic, come to a stop and proceed with caution.

2. Yield to Oncoming Traffic.

While you are stopped, look and see who has the green light. Sometimes there are turn signals and the vehicles across the intersection from you are turning into the same lane you want to pull into.

With this situation, it is best to wait until the cars have stopped turning before trying to merge into an opening. Drivers are often racing to make it through a light when they have it. Never try to fit into a small opening, no matter which way traffic is coming.

3. Watch for Pedestrians.

When making a stop at an intersection, it is vital you stop behind the white line before proceeding because you are entering an area where pedestrians might be present. Whether it is the crosswalk on the road you are on or the one you will turn through on the right, one direction will have a walking man.

Walking pedestrians aren’t the only people to watch out for either; keep an eye out for bicyclists. Some will be in the crosswalk, but other riders choose to be on the road, riding with traffic.

Road cyclists typically pull up to the white line to stop and can sneak up on your side without you noticing. Make sure you get a good look at your surroundings before making the turn, staying as close as possible to the right curb to avoid the next lane of oncoming traffic.


These three safety tips can help you avoid incidents when attempting a right-hand turn when you have a red light. If you remember to be patient and pay attention to your surroundings, you will have the right attitude of being safe.

Try to remember that turning on a red light is not necessary, and if you are patient, you will eventually get a green light, too.

Driving Awareness on Distracted Driving

Driving Awareness Distracted Driving | 911 Driving School

Washington is the latest state to join the list of places that ban using devices while driving with the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act. This includes more than just phones, but also tablets, gaming systems, computers, and other electronic devices while operating a vehicle.

The Demonstration

To help bring awareness to the dangers of driving distracted, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and Washington State Patrol partnered with 911 Driving School to do a demonstration.

Two teenagers volunteered to drive a car while talking and texting. This was done on a closed course that had cones spread to create different, normal traffic patterns and typical driving problems like sharp turns, switching lanes, avoiding a collision. Police officers, friends, and family helped by texting and calling the teens with questions.

Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act

The Act applies to drivers in any situation where a driver should still be paying attention to the road. This includes stopped at a red light or a stop sign since a driver is currently in traffic and expected to focus. The Act does not apply to the following situations:

  • Motorists using a smartphone mounted in a dashboard cradle for talking and navigation (watching videos is prohibited)
  • Making calls to 911 or any other emergency service
  • Transit employees and dispatchers communicating for work

This is a move that lawmakers believe will push drivers to practice safety behind the wheel. In 2015, 3,477 people in the United States were killed in incidents where the driver was distracted.

Limiting the use of this technology to a single touch will significantly improve a driver’s ability to pay attention to the road. What most people don’t realize is that in just one or two seconds looking down at a device, the vehicle can move up to several hundred feet, depending on speed. If drivers use voice activation, blue-tooth, and a single touch to answer calls, they have both hands on the wheel for a longer period of time.

If putting in an address takes more than a single push of an app, pull off the road. If drivers need to send a text, they should pull off the road. Keeping both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road helps drivers focus on the road.

After the Act was passed, some areas started issuing tickets immediately, while others gave a six-month grace period. During this time, officers let drivers off with a warning to help spread awareness of the change. That grace period ended, however, at the beginning of the year.

Now drivers spotted using any kind of handheld device will receive a ticket all through the state. The fines on the tickets aren’t cheap either; a first offense fine is $136 and if a second offense occurs within five years, the price jumps to $234.

For a visual on the teenagers driving distracted event that 911 Driving School sponsored, the local news covered it and can be seen here.