All News & Blogs
Clearing up confusion on left and right turns on red lights, and one reader wants VDOT to ban the left turn on West Cambridge Street at the Falmouth intersection.
Click here to submit an item to Getting There
By Scott Shenk
WHO WOULD have thought a simple question about left and right turns would lead to so much trouble? In last week's column I fell asleep at the wheel or was it a case of distracted reporting?
Whatever it was, hopefully this mess can be cleared up.
One question focused on making left turns or U-turns on red lights. The answer last week that you can't was correct for the most part, but wrong on one point. On the other point in the column--making right turns on red traffic light arrows--the answer is less clear.
So here's the deal.
First, in this corner of the civilized world you can--I repeat, you can--make a left turn on red: It can be done from a one-way street onto another one-way street. You won't find many places where you can do this, but there are several intersections in Fredericksburg where you can.
Now for right turns on red arrow lights.
The Department of Motor Vehicles manual says, no, you can't make either right or left turns when the arrow is red. The Virginia Department of Transportation last week said drivers can make right turns on red arrows.
VDOT based the answer on the Code of Virginia, 46.2-835, which reads, in part, that "except where signs are placed prohibiting turns on steady red, vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal, after coming to a full stop, may cautiously enter the intersection and make a right turn."
Here's what the police say, and they're the ones who matter because they can give you a ticket.
"It's about as clear as mud," said Virginia State Police Sgt. Les Tyler.
He said common sense tells him that a red arrow would mean you shouldn't turn. But he said state code trumps all, and there is nothing in it about what a driver can do at red arrows.
So it looks like you can turn right on a red arrow.
But the red arrow is confusing, so it's a good thing VDOT has decided to get rid of the them. In the meantime, if you come to a red arrow in a right-turn lane and want to turn, just make sure no traffic or pedestrians are coming.