Ending Right Turns On Red Could Improve Pedestrian Safety

Advocates for pedestrian safety are pushing for a simple fix that promises to make crosswalks safer for those traversing streets on foot: Forbid motorists from turning right on red lights.

To advocates, the safety rationale is straightforward: At a typical intersection, a motorist who plans to turn the vehicle right must pull into the crosswalk, then look left to gauge oncoming traffic and to find an opening.

To the driver looking out the left window, a pedestrian crossing on the right becomes all but invisible.

“It’s just a source of conflict in places where pedestrians are present,” says Michael McGinn, executive director of America Walks, an advocacy group.

Support comes from a study in the journal of the Institute of Traffic Engineers which examined Washington, DC’s pilot of no-turn-on-red restrictions at 100 intersections in 2019.

Researchers found that after no-turn-on-red (NTOR) signs were installed,driver-to-driver conflicts plunged by 97 percent, and vehicle-pedestrian conflicts fell by 92 percent.

“Enhancing pedestrian safety really enhances the value of downtown,” McGinn says.

More on pedestrian safety appears in the June issue of Downtown Idea Exchange newsletter. Click to learn more about Downtown Idea Exchange and other resources for revitalizing downtowns and commercial corridors.

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