Being a bicyclist or pedestrian in Maryland can be dangerous, and any accident involving an automobile and a bicycle or pedestrian is almost always going to leave the latter party the worse for wear. Collisions between vehicles and pedestrians result in a high percentage of auto-related fatalities.
For decades, American drivers have been used to being able to make right turns at red lights. But ending this practice may significantly decrease motor vehicle accidents and make the roads much safer for everyone.
The history of right turns on red
Most countries with significant automobile-driving populations don’t permit drivers to turn right at red lights. The US is somewhat unique in this regard. But for many years, the US didn’t allow it either.
In the 1970s, America went through a major energy crisis, and policymakers saw vehicles idling at red lights as a source of waste. As a result, they tied federal funding to states allowing drivers to turn right at red lights. The practice has continued unchanged since then.
The dangers of right turns on red
Allowing drivers to turn right at red lights introduces extra chaos and unpredictability at many intersections. Pedestrians and bikers tend to cross a road when the light is red, and a right-turning vehicle can easily collide with them if the driver isn’t fully attentive.
Many municipalities are considering banning right turns on red lights, either entirely or by restricting the intersections at which it’s legal. Advocates for this policy change point out that waiting a few more seconds at a red light isn’t a major inconvenience for drivers, and the safety improvements are worth that minor cost.
Vehicles turning right at red lights is a significant cause of auto-pedestrian fatalities. Banning the practice might save lives, and this policy is currently under debate around the United States.