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Right turn on red after stop

Posted: October 15, 2010 in Cars & Driving

There seems to be some confusion over this rather simple rule, at least when it comes to DC area drivers. It's a simple rule, really, so let me explain.


  1. When approaching a red light, you MUST stop, even if you intend to turn right.
  2. Once you have come to a COMPLETE stop, and you have yielded the right of way to drivers who do not have a red light, you may then make a right turn once it's safe to do so.

That's it really.

Unfortunately, I've noticed more than a few unprincipled (i.e. shitty) drivers who have made what we'd call undesirable modifications to this rule, and I'd like to take this opportunity to clarify a few... misunderstandings.

  • The fact that you are turning right does not in any way absolve you from having to stop
  • And no, just taking your foot off the gas for a second is not good enough
  • Neither is simply tapping the brake once.
  • Or twice.
  • Turning right does not excuse you from yielding the right of way to other drivers who do not have a red light, like the guy coming the other way who's making a left turn on a green arrow.
  • Or the guy coming from your left who you're sure won't mind slamming on the brakes while you pull out in front of him.
  • Or even that poor guy who's making a U-turn on a green, who you just blocked, and who is now sitting there with his stuff swinging in the breeze and about to be T-boned.
  • And no, being in a hurry doesn't change anything either.

We people in the transportation biz have a phrase for all of those things. It's called "Running a red light". Please don't do it.


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