Motorists worth their license know that red light is the universally-accepted symbol for stopping, particularly at intersections. It’s easy enough to understand if your general direction is either straight ahead or you need to make a left turn.
But if you find a bright red traffic light barring you from making a right turn while everyone else on your lane is at a standstill, is that legal? After all, you’re not going against the flow of traffic. If anything, you’ll actually be merging with the flow of cars coming from your left, right?
Is it legal for traffic lights to prevent a right turn at intersections?
Generally, the rule is that cars should be able to turn right at an intersection even during a traffic stop (also known as a right turn on red or a free right), unless a traffic light or sign explicitly indicates that it is not allowed.
Of course, the assumption is that the traffic lights are working properly and the relevant signage is posted clearly, not obscured by other objects such as tree branches and concrete posts.
You'll need to position yourself close to the rightmost side of the road
Many horror stories abound of drivers blissfully unaware (or deliberately made ignorant) that right turns on red aren’t allowed at certain intersections, only to end up being flagged down by traffic enforcers waiting just beyond the turn. That’s a topic for another time, however.
By and large, intersections allow cars to make a right turn at any given time, and it’s easier when there’s a dedicated turning bay that can be used. The primary reminder at all times is to exercise caution.
>>> Related: 6 tips to identify a fake traffic enforcer in the Philippines
Watch out for other road users on the right side
Prior to making the turn, make sure that you’re closer to the rightmost curb instead of the left. The corresponding signal lamp should be engaged, especially if you’re coming from the opposite side of the lane.
Yield to pedestrians who might be crossing the road, and watch out for cyclists using the bicycle lane, which is close to the right-hand curb. Remember to approach the turn at a reduced speed since you don’t have the right-of-way, and come to a complete stop when necessary as you wait for oncoming traffic to yield and let you merge.
Pick up more driving tips for newbies at Philkotse.com.
Joseph Paolo Estabillo
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