May 8, 2023 - News

Get ready: Seattle is phasing out right-on-red turns

An intersection with crosswalks at multiple signs that say "No turn on red," with downtown buildings in background.

"No Turn on Red" signs at an intersection in Seattle. Courtesy of Seattle Department of Transportation

Expect some honking as drivers get used to Seattle's new dictate phasing out the decades-old practice of allowing right-on-red turns at intersections.

Why it matters: Failure to yield to pedestrians is one of the leading causes of crashes in Seattle, according to the city's 2023 Vision Zero Top-to-Bottom Review.

  • At traffic signals, incidents involving vehicle drivers turning account for 35% of all pedestrian-involved crashes citywide.
  • Twenty-eight people are killed and 180 people seriously injured in traffic-related collisions from all causes on average each year, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

Driving the news: In an effort to lower pedestrian collisions, the city has adopted a new policy to expand no right-on-red restrictions, according to SDOT.

  • A recent study published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers suggests that No Turn on Red signs can reduce pedestrian-vehicle conflicts by 92 percent and vehicle-vehicle conflicts by 97 percent during the red interval at signalized intersections.
  • The city already had 100 intersections banning red-light turns and is nearing completion on installing signs at 41 additional intersections downtown.
  • More signs will be rolled out in pedestrian-dense neighborhoods throughout the city over the next year.

What's next: In the future, red-light turn restrictions will be the default intersection setting.


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