California is one of many states that allows drivers to make a right turn when there is a red light if they stop and make sure it is safe to do so. A concern with the practice is the vulnerability of people who are crossing as pedestrians as well as the risk to bicyclists.
Increasingly, cities are taking a new look at the law and considering a ban. Northern California is no exception. Still, the change is being debated across the nation and people need to raise their awareness of how problematic the current law is for safety. In addition to distraction, speeding, recklessness and drivers who are under the influence, the right turn on red can cause accidents with injuries and fatalities.
Pedestrian risk made worse by right on red law
Washington D.C. is in the process of banning the law. Although there are conflicting assessments regarding the number of pedestrians and bicyclists who are injured or lose their lives because of a right turn being made on red, safety advocates assert that strategies to prevent potentially problematic maneuvers will be a net positive.
The number of fatal pedestrian accidents has been on the rise in recent years. The Governors Highway Safety Association says there were around 7,500 such accidents in 2022 alone. This is the worst total in more than 40 years. The size of vehicles was noted as a factor in the rising death toll as pickups and SUVs hit a person harder and higher on their bodies, causing greater damage.
This coincides with a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showing that pedestrians hit by a vehicle turning right were 89% more likely to lose their lives if it is a pickup truck. For SUVs, it is 63% more likely.
Previous studies were limited in their analysis of right turns on red. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave a congressional report nearly 30 years ago looking at the numbers for Missouri, Maryland, Indiana and Illinois. It found that there were 558 accidents with injuries and four deaths with right turns on red. This was before the trend of people driving larger and heavier vehicles.
Pedestrians will face extensive problems after an auto accident
Auto accidents can happen in many ways for myriad reasons. Right turn on red is a legitimate worry across the United States. In areas such as Sonoma County, automobiles turning on red can be challenging since it is such a prominent location for tourists from around the world. Turning right on red is generally banned in other nations, so people are not prepared for it and might be hit by a turning vehicle.
No matter how a pedestrian or bicycle accident occurs, the aftermath and the issues people will face are extensive. That includes the possibility of severe injuries, massive medical expenses, obstacles getting back to work and being unable to contribute to a family as they did before. It is important to know what options are available to make a full recovery in every way. That includes determining the cause of the accident and moving forward.