Readers have asked about making right turns on a red light. Specifically a red arrow. More specifically, the new red light arrow at the intersection of Old Redwood Highway and Mark West Springs Road, which recently got an upgrade. Kelly writes:

“In the past if you were traveling south on Old Red, when you got to the intersection you could instantly turn right and there was a yield sign there. Now there is a red, green or yellow turn/arrow signal not a round light. In my understanding of traffic laws, if the red arrow is red, you cannot make a right hand turn. So you would not legally be able to make a turn at the intersection until that red arrow turns to a green one. In the past few weeks since this has changed, every single time I have stopped at the red arrow, cars behind me continually honk at me, wishing for me to proceed before the arrow changes back to green.”

Kelly, your understanding of the law is correct. From the California Driver Handbook:

red lightSolid Red– A red signal light means “STOP.” You can make a right turn against a red light after you stop then yield to pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles close enough to be a hazard. Make the right turn only when it is safe. Do not turn if a “NO TURN ON RED” sign is posted.

red arrowRed Arrow– A red arrow means “STOP.” Remain stopped until the green signal or green arrow appears. Do not turn against a red arrow.

There may not be a “No Turn on Red” sign at the intersection, but that doesn’t mean that you can make a right on a red arrow. Drivers must wait until the arrow changes to make a right. And please, don’t honk at the driver in front of you, especially if they are following the law.

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