Turn right on red? Fine. Go ahead.

Finally! I remember when I moved to Minneapolis (about 10 years ago) how surprised I was at how many intersections prohibited right turns on a red light. I discovered at one point that pretty much all it took to get a “no right on red” sign installed was a call to the city requesting it. Once installed they very rarely came down whether or not there was any discernable improvement in safety or traffic.

Well, it turns out they don’t improve safety much if at all. They do, however, cause traffic slowdowns and backups. (No kidding.) Minneapolis currently has more than 500 of these signs posted throughout the city. Many of them will be coming down. City traffic engineers are beginning a 5 year study of the more than 800 intersections with signals reviewing light timing, intersections design and the need for the signs.

An interesting note from the end of the Southwest Journal article about this“Reducing right-on-red prohibitions isn’t a new phenomenon, and one reason resonates even today: the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo spurred national interest in allowing right turns at red lights to conserve energy.”

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