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Could turning right on red cause a car accident?

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2024 | Firm News

When you approach an intersection with a red light, you must often make a quick decision about how to proceed. If your route takes you to the right, you may wonder whether you must wait for a green light. Does Texas law allow you to turn right on a red light?

What is the right way to turn right on red?

In Texas, unless a traffic sign indicates otherwise, drivers can turn right on a red light after coming to a complete stop. This is not merely a rolling stop or a slow glide through the intersection; it’s a full stop.

Once stopped, drivers should only proceed when they have a clear understanding of the traffic and it is safe to do so. This means checking for signage that prohibits right turns on red, looking for approaching cars and watching for pedestrians or cyclists before proceeding.

Drivers often must make their decision to turn quickly. Unfortunately, failing to assess their surroundings at a red light can cause them to collide with other cars, bicyclists or pedestrians.

What should drivers look for when turning right on red?

Intersections are complex zones where various types of road users converge. Especially in bustling cities like Austin, vehicles often share the road with pedestrians and cyclists. Here are some specific hazards that drivers should keep an eye out for:

  • Other drivers – Be aware of other drivers who might also be attempting to make turns or lane changes. Communication through signals and maintaining adequate spacing will help prevent accidents.
  • Bicyclists – Cyclists may be more difficult to see and can approach an intersection quickly, particularly in your blind spots. Always ensure that you check your mirrors thoroughly before making the turn.
  • Pedestrians – People walking, jogging or running often have the right of way. Unfortunately, in many cases they may not pay attention to turning vehicles. Be particularly cautious of people distracted by mobile devices or those who might not be able to move quickly.
  • Children – Young children can be impulsive and may enter the street unexpectedly. They may also be more difficult to see because of their size. Always slow down and remain alert near schools, parks and other areas where there are many children.
  • Elderly people or people with disabilities – These groups may require more time to cross the street and may not be as visible or as quick to react. People using wheelchairs are also lower to the ground, which can make them more difficult to see. Patience and careful observation are key when they are likely to be present.
  • Pets – Animals can be unpredictable and may dart into the street. Watch for pet owners and try to anticipate the possible sudden movements of animals, especially in residential areas.

While turning right on a red light is designed to keep traffic flowing smoothly, it can also pose risks if not executed properly. As a result, making this turn often requires extra caution and attention. When drivers prioritize safety, they can protect themselves and other people sharing the road with them.


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