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  • New CA Law Bans Right Turns on Red to Lower Pedestrian Fatalities?

    New CA Law Bans Right Turns on Red to Lower Pedestrian Fatalities?

The United States is among the few major countries to allow drivers to go right on a red turn sign. Turning right after stopping at a red light in California is generally legal, too. Typically, it’s up to the city if they want a more restrictive law than state law. I am San Francisco and Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney Michael Ehline. I am an expert in traffic safety and drafting traffic safety legislation. I have written award-winning stories about Google Tech buses and other traffic nuisances causing pedestrian injury crashes in LA. Most of us living in California, especially in Los Angeles, are used to going right on a red light if it appears safe.

Some of us have had close calls when vehicles turn right at a red light. For example, pedestrians walking into a crosswalk or bicyclists coming up on the right side of the bike lane. This exception to the red light law may have seen its better days to reduce accidents moving forward, at least in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Berkeley.

Meme CA cities pushing for less freedom to travel

Budget Shortfalls and Fleeing Taxpayers

Most of us know major insurers are fed up with California’s so-called “pro-criminal” agenda. Major insurers are fleeing California at about the same rate as parents with children who don’t want their children sexualized by the far-left California “education” system. Between having their car windows smashed in, using the poopmap app, and families fleeing defund the police zones like Berkely, California is now facing a huge budget shortfall.

In November 2022, Berkeley Councilmembers Terry Taplin and Susan Wengraf proposed banning rights on red via a budget referral, requesting $135,000 to install ‘No Right on Red’ signs at 135 intersections in Berkeley. Although the proposal was approved that month, it still hasn’t made much progress.” (Source: SF Gate.)

Newsom once had a surplus before pushing the Weiner, “woke” “Blackrock agenda” after the last [presidential election]. So it makes sense these ANTIFA-friendly areas would want to pass a law to punish drivers in cars (to end climate change and make up for budget shortfalls, etc.) as their tax base continues to shrink and free everything for everyone can no longer be paid for.

“Economic reality bites as Newsom faces a big California budget problem”


Non governmental organizations (NGOs) pushing for more laws suggest that more traffic fines and nonuniform traffic regulations will help save pedestrians. However, pro-USA activists like Max Bonilla disagree. People like him believe NGOs are simply part of the deep state, helping democrats fleece what is left of California’s job-creator base.

Lack of uniform laws means more revenue for cities struggling to pay for free things.

Ultimate guide to disparate laws meme

The lack of uniform laws will make commuters sitting ducks for a surge in traffic fines to help make up for the mass exodus of taxpayers.

Examining Implications of Disparate Laws In California

Disparate laws refer to a lack of uniformity or consistency across different jurisdictions, resulting in variations in legal regulations and enforcement practices. Disparate laws can lead to an initial upsurge in arrests and fines with local and long term uptick in revenues with non locals.

Let’s explore the reasons behind this: 

  1. Puzzling Inconsistencies: Differences in laws from one region to another can bewilder the residents and visitors. Unintentional law-breaking often results from not understanding the unique requirements of different areas, contributing to an increase in detentions.
  2. Uneven Law Enforcement: Enforcement agencies sometimes interpret and impose laws differently. This uneven application could increase arrest rates due to rigorous implementation in certain areas.
  3. Varying Penalties: Discrepancy in penalties and fines for similar offenses across different jurisdictions can cause unequal punishment. Areas with higher fines can impose additional financial stress on the offenders located there.
  4. Unfair Impact on Marginalized Communities: Disparity in law enforcement practices typically takes a higher toll on certain communities, especially when the application of these laws is influenced by race or socio-economic status. This leads to a noticeably high arrest rate in these specific demographics.
  5. Eroding Public Trust: The disparity in-laws and their enforcement can erode public confidence in the legal system. When people perceive unequal application of the law, they tend to lose respect for the legal process, leading to increased instances of non-compliance.
  6. Confusing Legal Environment: Individuals living in such territories may find it difficult to understand the complex panorama of legalities in an environment where laws differ from one place to another. This confusion can lead to accidental violations and increased brushes with law enforcement.
  7. Struggle in Resource Allocation: Dealing with various laws can pose a real challenge to law enforcement agencies. This can result in a greater emphasis on law enforcement in some areas, contributing to a hike in detention rates there.
  8. Increased Legal Representation Demand: With inconsistencies in-laws, the demand for legal representation grows as individuals need help maneuvering through local regulations. Consequently, this can raise the financial burden through elevated legal fees and fines.

States used to be determined to standardize laws and enforcement practices, leading to a more consistent, clearer, and just legal system. A uniform legal framework can reduce disparities and help maintain a balanced and equitable legal environment. The less uniform, the easier for the state to raise revenue against the taxpayers. As noted, lawyers, and of course, local government stand to make a ton of money from these new and confusing no right on red laws.

According to people like Max, NGOs get a lot of support from the left in pursuing more taxes, laws, and less freedom for ordinary citizens. The light at the end of the tunnel is that San Francisco FINALLY started locking up criminals again (starting in August), just in time for a visit from Communist China and the next presidential election.

To improve pedestrian safety and reduce the disturbing uptrend in pedestrian fatalities, a new proposed law in a few California cities will make ‘right-on-red’ turns illegal in some cities. This raises eyebrows, incites further debates, and adds California to the slowly expanding list of cities and states nationwide, rethinking decades of permissible ‘right-on-red’ turns for road users. 

It Was Originally Made Legal To Conserve Fuel?

Yes. Introduced in the 1970s oil crisis, ‘right-turn-on-red’ permission was supposed to conserve energy by stopping cars from idling. Newer cars automatically stop idling when stopped for this reason. However, this driver convenience has been scrutinized amid an apparent upward surge in pedestrian deaths. Can the rollback of ‘right on red light’ contribute significantly to safer streets across America and reduce transportation accidents? Many city officials from woke communities think more rules will do the trick.

  • California Vehicle Code §21453 - Offenses Relating to Traffic Devices

    California Vehicle Code §21453 - Offenses Relating to Traffic Devices

    California Vehicle Code §21453.  

    (a) A driver facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication to proceed is shown, except as provided in subdivision (b).

    (b) Except when a sign is in place prohibiting a turn, a driver, after stopping as required by subdivision (a), facing a steady circular red signal, may turn right or turn left from a one-way street onto a one-way street. A driver making that turn shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to any vehicle that has approached or is approaching so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard to the driver and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to that vehicle until the driver can proceed with reasonable safety.

    (c) A driver facing a steady red arrow signal shall not enter the intersection to make the movement indicated by the arrow and, unless entering the intersection to make a movement permitted by another signal, shall stop at a clearly marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication permitting movement is shown.

    (d) Unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian control signal as provided in Section 21456, a pedestrian facing a steady circular red or red arrow signal shall not enter the roadway.

    (e) (1) A peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, shall not stop a pedestrian for a violation of subdivision (d) unless a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision with a moving vehicle or other device moving exclusively by human power.

    (2) This subdivision does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for their safety.

    (3) This subdivision does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within the roadway. [Emphasis.] (Source: California State Legislature.)

Normal Practice

We count on citizens, cyclists, and others to help shape a safe and efficient urban landscape. Typically, we come to a complete stop and look both ways because we are paying attention, especially near schools. But this law is from an energy crisis long since passed. Many reasons exist to sunset this law, so let’s explore them.

Arguments Against Less Freedom

Conversely, skeptics argue this may not improve street safety and probably tie down the police even more. Instead, they assert, it could significantly slow down traffic (especially public transit) and inconvenience motorists, increasing tempers and rear-enders. They say we should look at the broader causes before even more people are killed off the sidewalk.

For example, what about distracted driving and larger vehicles on the roads? Safety advocates argue if you don’t see the red light, why would it matter? A traffic light or stop sign only protects pedestrians or bicycle riders if people pay attention to the road rules, they say.

This report will attempt to break down both sides and report the facts from a transport lawyer’s point of view. Let’s examine the history, reasoning, and potential implications of the ban on ‘right-on-red’ turns.

Why ‘Right-on-Red’ Became Commonplace 

The 1970s saw the United States in the throes of an oil crisis. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 was enacted to conserve energy, permitting cars to turn right on red lights rather than sitting idle. The catch? If states didn’t adopt this measure, they risked losing federal funding. Since then, right turns on red lights have become the norm nationwide, barring any explicitly posted restrictions. The car turning has to make sure it is safe, and that’s about it when it comes to making the right turn on a red for most drivers.


As the number of walkers tragically struck by vehicles mounts, we find ourselves at a 40-year high in pedestrian traffic deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 7,000 pedestrians died in motor vehicle accidents in 2021. A shocking 7,500+ pedestrian fatalities occurred in 2022 alone, according to a recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association. That’s a staggering 77% increase since 2010 in San Francisco and other major cities with right-on-red policies. 

Cities on Board with Right-on-Red Light Bans 

Despite the controversy surrounding these bans, several cities are already on board.

For example: 

  • Ann Arbor, Michigan – The city prohibited right turns in its downtown area.
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts – The city council gave the green light for a right-on-red ban in November 2022.
  • New York City – Right turns on red are allowed where signs expressly permit them.
  • Washington, D.C. – The city council will enforce a right-on-red light ban beginning in 2025.

Just a few weeks ago, Berkeley advanced the ban. This happened via a preliminary City Council vote, joining other cities like San Francisco, San Jose, Ann Arbor in Michigan, and Washington, D.C. All these cities have tried to prohibit right turns on red to curtail the probability of vehicles colliding with pedestrians and cyclists. Cities like Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and Seattle will also consider bills. As crowded cities decide if traffic signals should let drivers go ‘right-on-red’ turns, drivers and pedestrians should stay informed and voice their opinions.

Case For and Against Right-On-Red Bans 

Proponents of ending right-on-red legislation argue that banning right-on-red turns could dramatically reduce pedestrian fatalities. However, critics think it won’t increase street safety meaningfully. It could cause unnecessary traffic congestion. Let’s delve into the arguments of each advocacy organization in turn. 

The America Walks Perspective For Red Light Turn Ban

Recent pedestrian law

Advocates for right-on-red bans assert these could lower the risk of pedestrian accidents. “It’s an easy change to make that should be made in more places,” says Mike McGinn, former Seattle mayor and executive director of America Walks. Their stance is supported by the fact that pedestrian fatalities have been on the rise, with a shocking 77% increase since 2010. Mike McGinn, former Seattle mayor and executive director of America Walks, believes banning right turns on red lights could significantly mitigate pedestrian risks.

But there are differing opinions on the matter, as some critics believe that such bans may not necessarily improve overall safety while significantly impeding traffic flow. They argue better education, better signage, and enforcing speed limits will lower traffic fatalities.

National Motorists Association Argument Against Ban

Opponents of the ban see things differently. According to Jay Beeber, executive director for policy at the National Motorists Association (NMA), such proposals “make driving as miserable and as difficult as possible so people don’t drive so much.” Furthermore, critics say banning right-on-red turns could significantly slow traffic without making the streets safer. 

The National Motorists Association, studying California crash data from 2011 through 2019, asserts the scant number of fatalities—fewer than one every two years—could be from right-hand turns on red, but say not so fast. They say traffic reports are often mislabeled, causing misleading data compilation and potentially more laws regarding traffic lights nationwide.

But other safety advocates pushing for more government controls argue that conclusions drawn from official crash reports do not lack accuracy. This will significantly impact whether you’re among the inconvenienced motorists or traveling on commuter buses. Anyone using roads should be concerned about the effect on their commute, including the pedestrians eager for safer streets.

Causes: Distracted Driving and Larger Vehicles on the Road

Let’s delve deeper into the surge in pedestrian fatalities. Distracted driving and the increased presence of larger vehicles on the road are among them. Both have proven to be significant threats to pedestrian safety over the years. 

Distracted Driving and Pedestrian Safety

Distracted driving is any activity diverting a driver’s attention from the road. This could include texting, talking on the phone, eating, or changing the radio station. Unfortunately, distraction behind the wheel has deadly consequences. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019 alone, 3,142 lives were lost due to distracted drivers. Furthermore, the National Safety Council states cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes yearly. What’s alarming is that these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg, as many incidents go unreported. 

Impact of Larger Vehicles on Roads in Places like San Francisco

The last decade saw an increase in larger vehicles on our roads, such as SUVs and pickup trucks, especially in large cities. While larger vehicles may offer more protection for their occupants, they unquestionably pose a greater risk for pedestrians in cities like San Francisco. 

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Red Lights

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that SUVs are significantly more likely than cars to cause severe pedestrian injuries. This is due to their higher front-end profiles. This means they can hit a pedestrian at chest level instead of a smaller vehicle, which typically impacts the leg level. 

The IIHS says the odds an automobile turning right would kill a pedestrian were 89% greater for a pickup and 63% higher to be struck by an SUV. This is because these vehicles have more prominent blind spots. They are also deadlier overall due to the force and mass associated with heavier trucks.

It’s no wonder these issues are pushing cities across America to reconsider their right-on-red traffic laws

Reduction in Accidents Post-Ban Implementation 

Cities that have enforced these bans have seen promising results. For example, New York City, where right turns on red are only allowed where signs indicate, has historically lower pedestrian fatality rates when compared to other major U.S cities where right turns on red are more common. Advocates believe a nationwide ban could replicate these results and drastically reduce pedestrian deaths. 

Pundits argue bans might cause traffic slowdowns. However, advocates think a slower driving environment could lead to safer streets. They claim that Driving a little slower might be a small price to save lives. 

Are There Downsides? 

Of course, everything has a downside. Critics point out that banning right turns on red could lead to longer waiting times at intersections. They also assert this will increase traffic congestion. Will the potential for saving lives far outweigh these less dangerous inconveniences?

A Big Step Forward 

Advocates believe small changes could create a ripple effect, leading to safer road conditions for everyone. Yes, it might take a little getting used to and slow things down slightly. But from the perspective of those who advocate for right-on-red bans, the benefits far outweigh these concerns, as the paramount goal is to create safer streets for pedestrians. 

“Every life preserved by implementing these changes is a success,” says a leading pedestrian safety advocate.

Strategies To Avoid Getting Struck by Cars Making a Right on Red?

  1. Make Eye Contact: Whenever possible, establish eye contact with the driver so they know you before you begin to cross.
  2. Stand Clear: Make sure to stand far enough from the curb so drivers making a turn have enough room to see you.
  3. Don’t Assume: Never assume that a driver has seen you or will wait for you to cross and wait for them to come to a complete stop before crossing the road.
  4. Follow Pedestrian Signals: Pedestrian signals are there to guide you, so ensure that you follow them. Even if the intersection allows right on red, you may still have the right-of-way when the pedestrian signal is in your favor.
  5. Be Visible: Make yourself more visible to drivers, especially when walking in the dark. Wear a reflective vest, use a flashlight or a light-up armband.

Reader, What Do You Think? 

Is this just a ruse to compensate for poor governance and raise funds? Should the state prohibit drivers from turning right at red stop signs when safe? How about Los Angeles? Indeed, changing traffic rules can elicit a range of reactions. Whether you’re a driver, a pedestrian, or a concerned citizen, you must stay informed and make your voice heard. What’s your take on banning right-on-red turns? Will banning right turns at stop lights enhance safety without hampering traffic flow?

Or do you think there might be alternative measures to protect cyclists and pedestrians? Is there a better balance between pedestrian safety and traffic efficiency? Questions or comments? Let us know your thoughts using our online Contact Us form or dial (213) 596-9642 today.


  • Right On Red Bans Gain Traction Amid Mounting Pedestrian Safety Concerns
  • Column: Is turning right on a red light your California birthright? Not!

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Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.