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Travis Baker blogs about the problems and idiosyncrasies of Kitsap highways and byways.
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Rights on red prompt question

July 18th, 2013 by travis baker
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.

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4 Responses to “Rights on red prompt question”

  1. Gregg M Says:

    I was taught right on red is ok unless there is specific signage stating that is illegal.

  2. Michael Says:

    I don’t think that’s what she means at all. I asked you about this several years ago and you gave a flip answer. Here it is again:

    Going West on Sylvan Way, turning right onto Wheaton Way, there are THREE lanes and THREE lights. The left lane has a left-turn signal. No problem there. The center lane goes straight thru to continue on Sylvan Way. There is a single normal light above that lane. No problem there. The RIGHT lane is a RIGHT TURN ONLY lane. It has its own normal stoplight in front of it. This is NOT a “right green arrow” signal; it’s normal in every respect, and when it’s red it’s staring you in the face. When the middle light turns green, the right light turns green–every single time.

    The question is: Does that right most light hanging directly over the right turn only lane control that lane or not? If it does not, then you can sneak into the crosswalk far enough to see south down Wheaton Way and turn right on red. If it DOES control the lane, you can’t do that. So which is it?

    The other example is opposite. Coming OFF of SR3 North onto SR305 South you encounter TWO green or red ARROWS. They quite obviously attempt to control the two right-turn lanes coming off that exit. To me those arrows are a stronger lane-controlling statement than an ambiguous traffic light. Can you legally turn right on red there or not?

    People do, in both cases, of course.

  3. Dustin Says:

    Michael, you can assume its legal to turn right on any red unless a sign is posted saying otherwise in this state.

  4. Monika Says:

    I’m really not happy with the new configuration of 11th and Warren. I don’t think it did anything to help the huge back-up from the Warren Avenue Bridge. You have to wait in the long line to turn right onto 11th and you aren’t supposed to turn right from the 2nd lane now. So I think it’s worse.

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