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Should 'Right on Red' Be Banned?

Two red traffic lights on top of a pole with a "NO TURN ON RED" sign in between.

Every day, drivers face a common scenario at intersections – the option to make a right turn on a red light. While some see it as a convenient way to save time and keep traffic moving, others consider it a hazard and a potential cause of car accidents. The debate over whether right turns on red should be banned nationwide is ongoing.

In South Carolina, this issue is gaining attention, and a ban on right turns on red could become a reality. The potential ban is being closely watched by drivers and authorities alike as they consider the impact it could have on road safety.

Pedestrians are at high risk

According to a recent study published on ScienceDirect, drivers who engage in right turns on red aren't necessarily being careless in their actions. Their focus is primarily on merging with oncoming traffic from the left, causing them to overlook the potential risks posed to pedestrians in the crosswalk. This lack of attention to the crosswalk becomes particularly concerning when pedestrians have the walk signal and cars are allowed to turn right on red simultaneously.

However, the issues associated with right turns on red extend beyond pedestrian safety. As drivers inch forward to find the right opportunity to turn, they often end up blocking crosswalks entirely. While right turns on red are a common practice across the U.S., there are some inconsistencies in its implementation from state to state.

Right on red in South Carolina

In South Carolina, turning right on red is not banned unless specific signage prohibits it. As such, drivers are legally allowed to make right turns on red as long as no restrictions are indicated. However, while making these turns, drivers must remain cautious and mindful of cyclists and pedestrians at crosswalks.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) emphasizes that drivers must always yield to pedestrians on crosswalks, regardless of the presence of traffic signals or signs. Passing another vehicle stopped at a crosswalk while waiting for a pedestrian to cross is strictly prohibited.

Implementing a ban on right turns on red remains divisive, and there is currently no concrete plan for such a ban in the state. However, certain cities participating in the Vision Zero strategy, which aims to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities, may advocate for such a ban. For example, cities like Charlotte have committed to Vision Zero, and supporting a ban on right turns on red could potentially advance South Carolina and other states toward achieving the shared goal of eliminating all traffic-related fatalities.

Seeking legal help after a car accident

At Johnson + Johnson Attorneys At Law, we understand the life-altering impact that being hit by a car can have. That's why we are dedicated to fighting passionately for the rights of pedestrians who have suffered injuries at crosswalks due to reckless drivers making right turns on red.

Our priority is to hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions and to seek the maximum compensation possible to cover all medical bills, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses.

If you or a loved one was injured in a right-on-red accident, you can trust our pedestrian accident lawyers to advocate fiercely for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today and schedule a free case evaluation with one of our experienced team members. We are here to support you every step of the way.

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