Tag Archives: red arrow

Sitting tight at double red arrow lights

The in basket: A fellow named Pete says, “This question concerns the off ramp intersection from Highway 3 northbound to Highway 305 in Poulsbo.

“At the end of the ramp, there are two right-turn lanes that are controlled by traffic lights.  The lights have right turn arrows in red, yellow and green.

“I have been taught that the red arrow to the right indicates that you are NOT allowed to make a right turn on red after stopping.  I’ve seen countless people make a right on red in BOTH of the right turn lanes that are controlled by those lights, even troopers and other police officers.

“What is the correct answer?  I’ve had other drivers honk at me because I wait for a green arrow. Does the red right-turn arrow mean NO turn on red or not?

The out basket: Turning right on a red light is permitted from either of those lanes, provided you come to a complete stop first and yield to any vehicles with a green light. It’s the same as on the Kitsap Mall Boulevard off-ramp on northbound Highway 3 and on 11th Street at Kitsap Way in Bremerton.

I told Pete I’d honk at him too if I was behind him if he just sat there at the red arrow light when it is safe and legal to make the turn.

Clearing up red arrow signal confusion

The in basket: judy Kaylor asks in an e-mail, “Will you inform your readers, including me, about the rules of the road for a red or green arrow light governing a right turn at an intersection? We’ve understood in the past that a red light at an intersection permits us to make a free right turn, traffic permitting.  However, I’ve been instructed that a red arrow on a specific right turn at an intersection means ‘stop where you are until the arrow turns green.’

“In Silverdale, at least, I’ve seen many drivers continue to take a free right turn on a red arrow light.  And if I’m at the head of the line waiting for the green arrow light, I’ve been honked at and waved at to get moving.

“Clarification of the rules of the road on this situation would be helpful for all of us,” she said.

The out basket: If Judy was informed of the above as regards this state, she was misinformed. A driver facing a red arrow light is as entitled to make a right turn as one facing a red ball light, under the same restrictions: the driver must come to a complete stop before turning, must yield to any conflicting traffic with the right of way, and there can be no sign forbidding the turn, such as the signs you will see in Bremerton on Callow Avenue at 11th Street and on Montgomery Avenue at Sixth.

And as noted here previously, that is also true of both lanes with the double red arrow lights such as on 11th Street at Kitsap Way.

I used to call those free rights, too, but my sources finally broke me of the practice. They are rights on red. A free right requires no stop before turning. The southbound Waaga Way (Highway 303) off-ramp at Ridgetop Boulevard is a free right.

If you have a taste for legalese, you can read the relevant state law, RCW 46,61.055. That’s the same one that permits that oddest of deviations from driving practice, the left turn against a red arrow signal, but only onto a one-way street, such as a freeway on-ramp.

You almost never see it done, because it’s rare that the first person in line at such a place (westbound Burwell Street and Pacific Street in Bremerton, for example) knows it’s legal.