One of the best laws from a convenience standpoint is the permission to turn right at a red light. However, one must exercise the utmost care when doing so. Some of my students have experienced some problems, which I would like to address.
First of all, make sure that turning right on red is legal at your particular intersection. Any sign stating "No Right Turn on Red" or a right turn arrow superimposed by a red circle with a slash is a definite prohibition. Some signs may restrict turning right on red during certain times or on certain days, usually related to the start and dismissal of school. Be observant of signage, and drive accordingly.
When permitted, a right turn on red must only be attempted after you have made a complete stop behind the limit line, and then only after thoroughly checking for traffic. Remember, everyone else entering the intersection has the right of way, including pedestrians and cyclists. Look both ways for cross traffic to be sure the way is clear. Additionally, check oncoming traffic to see if anyone is turning left. A protected left turn arrow on your side may indicate that oncoming traffic has one as well. Even if you are turning onto a multiple lane road, don't count on the left turner staying in their nearest lane. Almost half of those I have observed turning left at intersections cross over into the far lane, the one you assume it is safe to turn into!
Should you make a right turn on red when oncoming traffic has a protected left turn, there is a potential for a collision. If the oncoming left turner crosses the lane divider into the right-hand lane, that would be an illegal action. However, you would also be in the wrong for not yielding, since you did have a red light. It's a lose-lose situation. My advice: don't chance it. Make sure the intersection is clear from all angles.
Hopefully these reminders will make turning right on red safer for you. And keep in mind, this is an option; it is not mandatory to turn right on red. Some intersections may be too busy or have limited sight distance. In those cases, waiting for the green light may be the best way to go.
Alert Driver Training in Rock Hill, SC is always here to help, whether it's to teach your teen, or refresh your own driving skills. Call us!