Many crosswalks and intersections throughout the state could become safer places for pedestrians and bicyclists throughout the state if a bill currently in the state senate is passed and signed into law. It would make Washington the only state in the country to allow its cities to prohibit right turns on red lights.
Technically, turning right on a red light has been allowed under federal law since the 1970s when it was determined that this helped save gas during the energy crisis. However, some of our state lawmakers have decided that the risks have become too high. As one of the bill’s sponsors says, “This simple change would make intersections safer for children, seniors, and other pedestrians at a time when traffic violence is at a three-decade high.”
It hasn’t helped that larger vehicles like pickup trucks and SUVs have become increasingly tall. This makes seeing smaller pedestrians (like children) and those in wheelchairs crossing in front of the vehicle virtually impossible.
Signage would be required in areas with numerous vulnerable pedestrians
Specifically, if the bill becomes law, drivers could no longer turn right on red in areas that are within 1,000 feet of places like :
- Schools or childcare facilities
- Public playgrounds, parks or recreation centers
- Senior centers
- Public transit facilities
These are obviously areas that tend to have a lot of pedestrian traffic, including those where children and senior citizens are likely to be present. The language currently in the bill requires cities and other local jurisdictions to prohibit right turns on red in areas “with high levels of pedestrian traffic” as determined by them or the state department of transportation. Localities will need to have a “No Turn on Red” sign at any location where such turns are banned.
Unfortunately, no amount of signage and laws will prevent all drivers from acting recklessly, even when they’re in areas where vulnerable pedestrians are present. A car vs. pedestrian or cyclist crash can be devastating for the person not in a vehicle.
That’s why it’s crucial that if you or a loved one has suffered injuries or worse in such a crash, you get a settlement that covers all expenses and damages in the short term and for as long as needed. Having experienced legal guidance can help you seek justice and compensation.