Recently, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) began installing No Turn on Red signs at some of the busiest intersections in the city. By mid-summer, more than 100 signs are planned to slow drivers and prevent accidents. While it seems logical to introduce no turn on red laws, auto safety experts feel the move may be short-sighted and will create traffic jams and increase crashes.
When it comes to right turn on red (RTOR) laws and pedestrian safety, certain traffic and safety experts feel prohibiting RTOR is a simple, low-cost way to protect pedestrians with minimal impact to traffic, especially in areas frequented by pedestrians and bicyclists. Others feel no turn on red laws create more collisions between vehicles and pedestrians. The American Automobile Association (AAA) is one opponent of DC’s new no turn on red laws. They feel DDOT needs to do more digging on specific crash data and pedestrian activity before changing the flow of traffic throughout the city. Several other cities are currently testing no turn on red intersections in limited areas to see if they have an impact on reducing crashes.
Traffic Congestion Due to No Turn on Red Laws
A former traffic engineer says converting intersections to no turn on red will likely have a negative impact on city traffic. He says the ban could create more conflicts with pedestrians, cause rear-end collisions, increase traffic gridlock, decrease travel time reliability, and generate more red-light camera tickets and revenue.
In urban areas such as DC, traffic congestion is a real concern. Where drivers stopped to pause and look before turning right on red, now they must wait for a green light to proceed, causing congestion that can potentially cause gridlock during morning and evening commute times. Drivers who know they can no longer turn right on red, may rush to beat the light, increasing the risk of rear-end crashes and collisions with pedestrians. Only time will tell if no turn on red laws make a difference in preventing car accidents throughout the District, or have a reverse effect by creating gridlock that ties up city traffic and puts pedestrians at a greater risk of harm.
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