Right-Turn-on-Red Restrictions:

A permissible Right Turn on Red (RTOR) was introduced in the 1970s as a fuel-saving measure and has sometimes had detrimental effects on pedestrians. While the law requires motorists to come to a full stop and yield to cross-street traffic and pedestrians prior to turning right on red, many motorists do not fully comply with the regulations, especially at intersections with wide turning radii. Motorists are so intent on looking for traffic approaching on their left that they may not be alert to pedestrians approaching on their right. In addition, motorists usually pull up into the crosswalk to wait for a gap in traffic, blocking pedestrian crossing movements. In some instances, motorists simply do not come to a full stop.

One concern that comes up when RTOR is prohibited is that this may lead to higher right-turn-on-green conflicts when there are concurrent signals. The use of the leading pedestrian interval (LPI) can usually best address this issue (see Pedestrian Signal Timing). Where pedestrian volumes are very high, exclusive pedestrian signals should be considered.

Prohibiting RTOR should be considered where and/or when there are high pedestrian volumes. This can be done with a simple sign posting, although there are some options that are more effective than a standard sign. For example, one option is a larger 762-mm by 914-mm (30-in by 36-in) NO TURN ON RED sign, which is more conspicuous. For areas where a right-turn-on-red restriction is needed during certain times, time-of-day restrictions may be appropriate. A variable-message NO TURN ON RED sign is also an option.6



  Purpose
• Increase pedestrian safety and decrease crashes with right-turning vehicles.
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  Considerations
• Prohibiting RTOR is a simple, low-cost measure. Together with a leading pedestrian interval, the signal changes can benefit pedestrians with minimal impact on traffic.
• Part-time RTOR prohibitions during the busiest times of the day may be sufficient to address the problem.
• Signs should be clearly visible to right-turning motorists stopped in the curb lane at the crosswalk.
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  Estimated Cost
$30 to $150 per NO TURN ON RED sign plus installation at $200 per sign. Electronic signs have higher costs.
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  Case Studies
Orlando, FL 
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Photo by Cara Seiderman
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Photo by Scott Wainwright
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Photo by Scott Wainwright
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U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration