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.