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Why have ‘no right turn’ (red right arrow) traffic signals if they’re not enforced?

Ken Little

A red right turn arrow “does not mean you cannot turn right on red,” said Denys Vielkanowitz, signal systems management engineer for the city of Wilmington.

Vielkanowitz cites The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Section 4D.04, P3, C.2:

“When a traffic control device is in place permitting a turn on a steady RED ARROW signal indication, vehicular traffic facing a steady RED ARROW signal indication is permitted to enter the intersection to make the movement indicated by the arrow signal indication, after stopping.”

“The important part here is, ‘…after stopping’. Not stopping at a red signal indication (circular or arrow) can result in a citation,” Vielkanowitz said.

He said that if the right-turn-on-red is not allowed, a sign is required indicating the restriction.

“This restriction is used in cases where there is inadequate sight distance to safely make the movement, heavy pedestrian traffic, and/or high crash experience from the right-turn-on-red movement,” Vielkanowitz said.

Making a left turn on circular red (or red arrow) is not allowed in North Carolina, he added.

User-contributed question by:
Pat Marriott

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3 Responses to “ Why have ‘no right turn’ (red right arrow) traffic signals if they’re not enforced?”

  1. On April 8, 2011 at 11:51 am Dougy wrote:

    I hope many read this. Thinking they can not turn right (after stopping) at a red arrow seems to be a common mistake for drivers.

    Maybe the Star News can start a weekly segment called “Traffic laws you should know, but probably don’t”.

  2. On April 9, 2011 at 1:33 pm Paul wrote:

    I actually got stopped by police one evening for NOT turning right on red arrow (with no traffic around). I thought he was insane for suggesting that I should be doing so. Sure enough, next day looked up the NC law and he was right.

    This is counterintuitive and the direct opposite of laws in most all other states.

    C’est la vie

  3. On February 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm Sandy wrote:

    Turning right on a red arrow makes no logical sense and, like the other poster said, it is not in alignment with other state’s laws. Think about it: If you are allowed to turn right on a steady red after stopping (unless posted otherwise), what is the need for a red arrow which allows you to do the same? It makes utterly no sense, and like I said, it is not the same in other states. Elsewhere it is illegal to turn right on a red arrow, just as it would be to turn left on a left red arrow. So please bear this in mind if you have only driven by North Carolina’s rules… it is not the same elsewhere and you will be ticketed in (many) other states if you turn right on a red arrow.