The in basket: Lois Clauson writes, “I know it is legal in Washington state to make a right turn on a red light if it is safe to do so. I was told recently that it is not legal if there are two red lights at the intersection. If that is correct, what is the reasoning behind it?”
The out basket: There are at least two traffic signals at almost every intersection in this state. It complies with a federal guideline requiring that stop signals be “double-hung,” providing redundancy if one burns out or is obscured by other traffic.
I can’t tell from Lois’ question whether she is addressing only places like 11th Street and Kitsap Way in Bremerton and the northbound Highway 3 off-ramp to Highway 305 in Poulsbo where there are two right-turn signal arrows regulating the turn. In both places a driver in either of those two lanes may turn right on red after stopping and yielding to any traffic with a green light, making sure he or she doesn’t encroach on the adjacent lane while turning.
If only the outer red signal points right, or if none do, in most cases only the outer lane is available for a right on red. In some places, signs or pavement markings will do the same thing as a second red light arrow, permit a right on red from the inner lane. Southbound Warren Avenue at 11th Street in Bremerton used to be such a place, before its recent reconstruction.