Rights against a red arrow light are legal

The in basket: Francis Thompson writes, “Wednesday, 02/11/15, I was riding with my daughter while she was driving in Tacoma. At the intersection of 38th and Union there was a directional arrow for a right turn. When she arrived at the corner to make a right turn, the arrow was red so she did not proceed. Very shortly, the car behind her honked as if she should proceed, which she did not do.

“Was she correct or was the impatient driver behind her correct?” Francis asked.

The out basket: If there was no sign controlling her direction of travel saying “No Turn on Red” or “No Right Turn on Red,” she was entitled to proceed against the red when no conflicting traffic was coming, and after coming to a complete stop.

I told Francis, “A lot of people think the arrow adds a prohibition, but it doesn’t.” The red arrows evidently mean only right turns are permitted from that lane, perhaps telegraphing what to expect when the light turns green.

One thought on “Rights against a red arrow light are legal

  1. That is just more proof that people really need to read a drivers handbook thoroughly and why in my opinion I also think that every time a drivers license is to be renewed, they should also take a written test to make sure they are up to speed with new and changed laws. As a worker who does alot of highway and roadway work, I see so many drivers out there that are oblivious to good driving skills and just fail the law bad. I work on I-5 around Edmonds and we have a WSP with us every night (on Overtime) because drivers out there do not seem to understand the concept that there are lights and trucks and signs and everything else to show that there is roadwork. We have had 2 workers injured on that job, one from being rear ended in his TMS or crashtruck that protects the workers at 60 mph by a semi and another who got hit by an object thrown from a pickup during a lane closure. Well we get to talk to a different WSP every night and they tell us that drivers up here are clueless on the road. The new thing they pull drivers over for is driving with no lights on. And it is usually the same excuse as to why they dont have lights on, its either “I heard that it was safer and I can see better or I did not know I had to have my lights on. And they are usually sober. Drivers get pulled over for driving in a road closure because they think its a passing lane. Or when they get pulled over for speeding through a work zone, its always I did not know I was supposed to reduce my speed in a work zone, despite there being signs posted. Oh and those who get a ticket in a work zone, I do believe the fine is doubled for any infraction.

    I know alot of teens who have bragged that all they did was pay their fee for driving school and they got a certificate and then did their drivers test and passed and got their license to drive. I coach 15 and 16 year old girls in softball and they drive all over this state and all hours to get to a game or a tourney. As coaches we encourage the parents to not allow this because in our minds we know they are not ready, but we cannot force this. Because as parents it is their right to let their kids drive. And they think it is a joke and most dont know the laws. We have actually quizzed some of our girls about driving and most dont have a clue. But they are no different than most any other driver in this state.

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