DC a step closer to banning most right turns on red

The D.C. Council on Tuesday voted 12-1 to pass a bill that prohibits drivers from making a right turn on red at most intersections.

The exception would be at intersections where DDOT determines right on red is safer than making right-turning drivers wait.

The bill aims at improving safety for pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders. It still requires the mayor’s signature and would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2025.

“Many traffic engineers, advocates and community members agree that prohibiting right turns on red should be expanded across the District at the vast majority of locations to best promote safety and make the District truly accessible and welcoming to all who walk, cycle or use other means other than a car,” said Council member Mary Cheh, who represents Ward 3 and serves as the chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment.

The right-on-red law was implemented in the District in the late 1970s as an energy-conservation measure.

After 100 intersections were converted to prohibit right turns on red, a DDOT study found greater safety, Cheh said.

“There were far fewer conflicts between cars and people, more cars yielding for pedestrians and generally safer conditions,” she said.

The bill also allows bicyclists and scooter riders to maintain their momentum and roll through, without stopping, at intersections with stop signs and red lights when it’s safe to do so — something else that its supporters said would improve safety.

“As long as they are moving slow enough … to observe their surroundings and avoid hazards,” said Cheh. “Riders would need to yield to other road users — including pedestrians and drivers — lawfully in the intersection.”

Ward 8 council member Trayon White was the lone vote against the bill, known as the Safer Streets Amendment Act of 2022.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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