Turning right on red at an intersection is second nature to most drivers.  Under Washington State Law it is legal to turn on red (after you come to a complete stop) in all but three circumstances described in WAC 468-95-250.  In layman's terms... you can turn on red unless a sign is posted specifically prohibiting it, a Pedestrian is in the crosswalk, or traffic is coming from the other direction .  That could soon change.

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According to the Washington State Transportation Commission, the number of traffic deaths in 2022 was the highest since 1990.  While WTSC estimates 745 people died in accidents in 2022, and attributes over half of those to impaired drivers, the rest fall into a number of different categories.  While the 2022 data is still "estimated" 2021 numbers are not.

Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images
Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images
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In 2021, the number of pedestrians killed in traffic related accidents was 145 and the number of cyclists was 14.  With 2022 numbers expected to be higher in those categories as well, bills have been introduced in the State House and Senate in an attempt to address those numbers.

Why Target Turning On Red?

Proponents of HB 1582 and SB 5514 say driver's are too focused on making the turn and not focused enough on pedestrians or cyclists that may be approaching the intersection or are in the crosswalk.  The companion bills would prevent turning right on red within 1,000 feet of these locations:

  1. Elementary or secondary school
  2. Child care center
  3. Public park or playground
  4. Recreation center or facility
  5. Library
  6. Public transit center
  7. Hospital
  8. Senior center
  9. Any other facility with high levels of pedestrian traffic as determined by the appropriate local jurisdiction or the department of transportation.
Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for 3M
Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for 3M
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It would also require each local jurisdiction or DOT to erect signage in each of those areas that you are prohibited from turning right on red.  If passed the law would go into effect July 1, 2024 to allow jurisdictions to asses areas and create the necessary signage.

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