British Columbia·Poll

'Right-turn-on-red' ban encourages rule breaking, says traffic engineer

As Seattle does away with right turns on red lights at some downtown intersections, we ask whether the switch would work in Vancouver.

Seattle has banned right turns on red lights at some downtown intersections - should Vancouver do the same?

Seattle is eliminating right turns on red lights in a number of downtown intersections. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

Seattle is doing away with right turns on red lights at a number of downtown intersections in a bid to make its streets safer for pedestrians, but would such a ban work in Vancouver?

"You'll have lots of locations where you'll end up creating situations where motorists will likely wonder why they're being held at a red light," traffic engineer Jan Voss told On The Coast's Stephen Quinn.

"They actually have an opportunity to turn right on red safely...And you'll probably end up encouraging more people to ignore the signs."

  • Scroll down to take our poll on right turns on reds

Seattle officials announced their new safety campaign, Vision Zero, last week, saying changes like ending right turns on reds and reducing speed limits would allow the city to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

Voss, with the Port Moody-based consulting firm Creative Transportation Solutions, says a right-turn-on-red prohibition may make sense for certain corridors, such as those that see a high volume of pedestrians.

But he warns against taking a blanket approach, and instead praises alternatives like Vancouver's pedestrian crossing countdown clocks.

"It's a really great information sign to give pedestrians comfort that they have enough time to cross the crosswalk safely, at least while the light is still on," he said.

"The problem is … a lot of those countdown timers are visible by approaching motorists, and so there, you just have to weigh the needs for that versus the pedestrian."

To hear more about Seattle's ban on right turns on red lights, click on the audio labelled: Would banning right turns on red lights make the streets safer?

Take the poll: Should Vancouver ban right turns on reds?

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