New Jersey law allows drivers to make a right turn after stopping at a red light, unless otherwise indicated. However, many U.S. cities are now considering bans or restricting right-on-red in an attempting to curb the high rate of pedestrian and cyclists fatalities increasing across the nation. So far, many municipalities have already tried a litany of infrastructure and policy changes to try and address the growing rate of injuries of deaths among pedestrians.
Right-on-red in 2023
In 2022, the Washington D.C. City Council approved a law against right-on-red for 2025. Chicago has plans for restricting right-on-red, but the mayor’s administration hasn’t provided any specifics as of October 2023. Ann Arbor, Michigan is a popular college town that already bans right turns on red in the downtown area. San Francisco recently held a vote urging the transportation department to endorse and city-wide ban against right-on-red. Denver, Los Angeles and Seattle are also considering bans against right-on-red.
More on right-on-red turns
Unlike most major cities, a right-on-red ban has always been in effect for most of New York City. An executive director of policy for the National Motorists Association believes the assumption that blanket bans against right-on-red will make the streets safer is a fallacy. The NMA found that from 2011 to 2019, motor vehicle accidents involving right-on-red drivers in California only attributed to one pedestrian fatality every two years. The respective fatality rate for cyclists was even lower.
In many cities, banning right-on-red has developed into a contentious struggle between local motorists, safety advocates and policy makers. Some argue that right-on-red penalties may disproportionately effect low-income drivers who cannot afford housing near public transportation. A nation report from the Governors Highway Safety Association determined that over 7,500 pedestrian were struck by vehicles during 2022, the highest total since 1981.