By: Sheriff Carmine Marceno
Roughly 50 years ago, states began permitting a right turn, following a complete stop, at a red light.
The decision was made, partly, as an effort to save fuel during a period where the United States was experiencing significant fuel shortages in the 1970s. In fact, the “Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975,” in addition to setting minimum standards for vehicular fuel efficiency, stated that “in order for states to receive federal assistance for mandated conservation programs, they had to enact a traffic law or regulation which, to the maximum extent practicable consistent with safety, permits the operator of a motor vehicle to turn such vehicle right at a red stop light after stopping.”
Whether or not this practice actually saves fuel remains unknown. What is known is that the practice is not “consistent with safety” and has resulted in countless accidents and fatalities.
The safe completion of a right turn on a red signal mandates a full and complete stop. Clearly, a complete stop requires that the vehicle ceases to move forward and that the vehicle is motionless for a detectible period of time.
This requirement is wholly overlooked and often ignored.
Most drivers planning on utilizing the “right-on-red” privilege naturally look only to the left to see if oncoming traffic will allow their right turn. Once a determination has been made to proceed, the driver begins the turn.
This approach fails to assess conditions to the right such as pedestrians and bicyclists. Keep in mind that pedestrians and bicyclists attempting to cross the roadway from the driver’s right to the driver’s left have a green “walk signal” inviting them to cross the street.
Today’s larger passenger trucks often restrict visibility and drivers may not see children, shorter adults or individuals in wheelchairs who are attempting to cross.
Often, in an effort to clearly see oncoming traffic from the left, drivers advance into the crosswalk and completely block access to those attempting to cross.
Lastly, as a result of failing to accurately judge the speed of approaching vehicles, or proceeding with the assumption that oncoming traffic will slow to allow your vehicle to complete the right turn, drivers enter the intersection with insufficient clearance, forcing oncoming vehicles to brake abruptly or cause a collision.
Let’s work together to make Lee County a safer place for all drivers, all bicyclists and all pedestrians by stopping completely prior to right-on-red turns and by taking a moment to inspect conditions to the right of our vehicles.
SPEEDING AND ROAD-RACING ISSUES
In addition to work in other areas of Lee County, our Traffic Unit continues to work diligently, at all hours, in response to complaints related to reckless speeding in and around our East District.
Well over 120 hours of traffic operations have been devoted specifically to the State Road 82, Gateway Boulevard, Griffin Drive, Treeline Parkway and Daniels Parkway roadways over the last handful of weeks.
The operations have resulted in the issuing of violations, the impounding of vehicles and in arrests.