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Driving tips

Advance green doesn’t prevent a right turn on red

Published September 4, 2013
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Most drivers, and probably some police, seem to miss a key point concerning right turns on red.

Section 144(14) HTA states that “every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing one or more green arrows indications only, or in combination with a circular red or circular amber indication and facing the indication, may proceed only to follow the direction shown by the arrow.”

When facing a red light with an advance left turn green arrow, drivers can’t legally turn right on red as the green arrow would only allow a left turn, not right. Am I correct?

Stephen Parker, a licensed paralegal with Pointts, replies:

Sorry, but no, that interpretation is not correct.

An advance left-turn green arrow on the centre traffic light head means that left-turn drivers may turn, but those in the through lanes can’t proceed straight through until they have a circular green light (or green forward arrow).

If you’re in the curb lane waiting to turn right, and all the other signals for you are red, you can still turn right on red regardless of the advanced left-turn green arrow, which doesn’t apply to your lane of travel.

Ontario Transportation Ministry spokesperson Bob Nichols adds:

Under the Highway Traffic Act, turning right on red after stopping, even when there is an advance-green left-turn arrow, is typically allowed, depending on the layout of the traffic lights. Drivers are to obey the traffic signal that applies to their lane, as set out in subsection 144(10) HTA.

At intersections, there are normally at least two sets of traffic signals: one on the far left that is often on a median facing the left turn lane(s), and the primary signal head on the far right side that applies to the other lanes.

When there is a red light and a left-turn green arrow displayed on the far left signal head, left-turn drivers may proceed to turn. At the same time, the right side signal head will display red only, and turning right on red is allowed after stopping and yielding.

In few instances, the right signal head will also display a left-turn arrow and, for this arrangement, turning right on red is not allowed.

Eric Lai adds:

An example of the latter is a road that terminates at a T-intersection with a one-way road heading to the left. Green left-turn arrows, rather than circular green lights, on both traffic light heads would indicate that all lanes must proceed left only.

Also, drivers cannot turn right on red if a sign prohibiting such movement is posted.

Note that all information above is of a general nature only and should not be taken as legal advice or opinion.

wheels@thestar.ca

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