3 Steps to Take Before Turning Right on Red

3 Steps to Take Before Turning Right on Red | Swerve Driving School

Most intersections in the United States allow drivers to turn right while the light is red. This is one way that traffic flows keep going and lines of cars from getting too long. Before you turn right on red, there are three critical steps to make sure you are doing it right and staying safe.

1. Always stop behind the white line

At every intersection, there is a white line. This is a point for drivers to know where they should stop at a red light. Ideally, this keeps the intersection clear for other drivers to move around and see better. The white line is also placed with enough space for pedestrians to have ample room to walk in the crosswalk and be seen by all drivers.

Stopping at the white line is required for all drivers, including those who want to turn right. When approaching the intersection, stop at the white line before proceeding to make sure that you are ready to complete the next two steps.

2. Take time to observe

The biggest reason that drivers need to stop behind the white line is to give them time to observe. If you are stopping properly, you will take time to look around. There are three main things to look for while stopped:

  • Signs– not every intersection allows you to turn right when the light is red. It is important that you look around at the posted signs to make sure you aren’t breaking the law. Others require a special signal specifically for drivers turning right. Don’t turn if this light is red since it means there are others with a green turn signal.
  • Pedestrians– Whether they are in the crosswalk already or getting ready to cross, pedestrians have the right of way. Do not drive into the crosswalk area if you see people there. It is illegal and creates a potentially dangerous situation for them.
  • Oncoming traffic- Stopping allows you to wait until there is an opening for you to pull in without slowing down traffic.

It doesn’t take long to look for these things while stopped, especially once you become experienced. Each one is very important and rushing through the intersection puts a lot of people in danger, including yourself.

3. Proceed with caution

Once you have taken time to observe, make sure you approach the turn with caution. Bicyclists are difficult to see and can quickly come up behind you. Pedestrians might try to run in front of you to cross before the light changes. Vehicles further up the road from you might be turning right or left into the lane you’re trying to enter. These situations are all common scenarios that happen fast if you are not paying close enough attention.

Once you turn into the lane, speed up to match the flow of traffic to prevent any other problematic situations.


Making the right-handed turn with these three steps will help you complete a successful move while avoiding any incident, injury, or lawbreaking.

Decreasing Distracted Driving in Washington

One of the biggest problems faced by drivers right now is driving distracted. Cellphones have become such a problem, that several states have outlawed their use while operating a vehicle. The newest member of the club is Washington State.

After passing the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act, many agencies allowed officers to give warnings to driving with devices for the first six months. This was used to spread awareness to drivers that soon they won’t get away with the offense.

On January 23, six months after the Act was passed, the grace period ended, and officers started issuing citations. From January 1-23, 746 drivers were fined for using devices.

Distracted Driving on the Rise

The problem has become more concerning every year, with the rate of distracted driving increasing 32% between 2014 and 2015. In 2015 alone, there were 3,477 people who died across the nation in distracted-driving incidents.

While many believe this problem is exclusive to the group of teenage drivers, that just isn’t true. Drivers using their cellphones have been found in every age group, which makes this all more concerning to lawmakers. It isn’t just cell phones either. Drivers are distracted using many different devices, including the following items banned under the Act:

  • Cellphones
  • Tablets
  • Laptops
  • Personal gaming systems

These devices are all banned when in an active traffic situation, including stopped at a red light or stop sign because drivers should still be paying attention to the road. If any driver needs to use one of these listed devices, it is important to pull off the road. There are instances excluded from the Act, of course, including

  • Making 911 or other emergency calls
  • Calls between transit employees and dispatchers

The Goal

The hope behind the Act is that drivers will limit devices to only a one-touch use of the phones. It is okay to use a dashboard cradle for the phone so that drivers can use navigational apps or to talk hands-free by enabling the blue-tooth function technologies available.

Too many drivers don’t realize that looking away from the road for something fast, like checking a text, switching a playlist, or finding a phone number can distract them for several hundred feet of road. While many people think they’re okay, they create a dangerous situation for themselves and anyone around them.

The price tags on distracted driving aren’t small either. Officials are hoping that they can use the high prices to make the public aware that distracted driving is a serious problem. The first offense will cost drivers $136 and if a second offense occurs within five years, the price increases to $234. However, the biggest price paid is by the friends and family of those involved in accidents from a distracted driver.

Lawmakers and officers are hoping that this new law will help make the roads safer for everyone. By creating the law, spreading the message, and charging serious fines, there is one clear, simple message- if you’re driving a vehicle, put away the distractions.

If you need a refresher on driving safely on the roads, including avoiding distractions, don’t forget that we offer both teen and adult driving school. You can never be too safe while driving.