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Can banning right turns at red lights reduce California pedestrian fatalities?

Turning right after stopping at a red light in California is legal. Some lawmakers and citizens want to ban turning right at a red light. A rise in the number of pedestrians killed or injured in motor vehicle accidents has caused some people to rethink the safety of turning right at a red light.

Banning right turns at red lights

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 7,000 pedestrians died in motor vehicle accidents in 2021. There were also thousands of pedestrians injured in accidents involving motor vehicles. Some cities are asking if banning the ability to turn right at red lights will make roads safer for pedestrians.

Washington, DC has a right-on-red turning ban that takes effect in 2025. Chicago is planning to restrict the ability to turn right on red. San Francisco and Los Angeles are among several cities considering banning the practice of turning right on red.

Is a ban effective?

Some people argue that banning right turns at red lights serves no purpose. A study by the National Motorists Association found that drivers turning right on red are not a major cause of pedestrian deaths. The study found that about one pedestrian death every two years is the result of a driver turning right at a red light.

Safety advocates who support the ban expect drivers to resist the change. But advocates say the ban is for the greater good of all US citizens. Critics of the ban say it will only hinder traffic and inconvenience drivers. They also say the ban will cause delays in deliveries and public buses.

As of 2023, it’s still legal for a driver to turn right at a red light in most states. California might one day join Washington, DC and New York in their ban on the turning practice.