The rules for turning right at a red light

Right turn on red

Here is another request from a reader, who writes: “If you have not commented on right turns at red lights you might want to consider it. I see so many people that fail to stop at a red light when turning right. They seem to feel that all they have to do is yield. Unless the rules have changed, it requires a full stop before turning.”

Right turns on red were implemented to save time and fuel for drivers. As part of Vision Zero, the emphasis on moving motor vehicles at the cost of other road users is being reconsidered for urban areas.

Unless you are facing a No Right Turn On Red sign, making a right turn at a red traffic light is legal in British Columbia.

Drivers and cyclists must:


• Cessation of vehicle movement is mandatory

• Stopping behind the stop line or crosswalk

• A pedestrian who is authorized to enter the intersection has the right of way


• Are you allowed to make a right turn on a red light?

• Yield the right of way to pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists that have entered, or are about to enter, the intersection

• Shoulder check to make sure no pedestrians or cyclists are present


• You are not required to turn right at a red light. You are allowed to wait for the green light

• Having done all of this, you may then turn right, if it is safe to do so

Pedestrians must:

• Always be careful at intersections where vehicles turn right at a red light

• Stop on the sidewalk or side of the road if there is no sidewalk

• Look left, ahead, right and over the left shoulder to make sure no vehicles or cyclists are about to turn right

• Once you are certain the way is clear and the walk signal is on, you can cross

Beware, while this is allowed in British Columbia, it may not be the case in other provinces and U.S. states. Check the local rules before you attempt this elsewhere.

Where are most drivers likely to be looking before they turn right on a red, especially if they don't intend to stop? To their left of course. This puts pedestrians and cyclists at risk.

According to RoadSafetyBC, 23% of fatalities, 46% of injuries and 35% of all crashes occur at intersections.

Is it worth the couple of seconds saved if the action results in a collision? I don't know about you, but my driver's door doesn't seem anywhere near strong enough to prevent another vehicle from intruding into the passenger compartment and causing significant injury to me.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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