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D.C. Bans ‘Right on Red’ To Prevent Accidents With Pedestrians and Cyclists

a red traffic light at a city intersection.

Intersections are a frequent site of serious and fatal collisions.

The City Council for Washington, D.C., recently voted to ban right on red turns for motorists but will continue to allow cyclists to continue through intersections without stopping if the intersection is clear, according to a DC'ist and WAMU news story about the proposal aimed at reducing bicycle and pedestrian accidents. However, the "Safer Streets Amendment Act" still needs Congressional approval to officially become law in D.C., according to WUSA 9 News.

"This legislation is a significant expansion of our toolbox to end traffic injuries and deaths here in the District," council member Brianne Nadeau said in an interview with WUSA 9 News. "It also says declaratively that those who walk or roll here deserve to do so with comfort and dignity."

Any proposal that reduces the number of bicycle or pedestrian accidents in Washington, D.C., should be strongly considered. Pedestrian and bicycle accidents often occur at intersections and wreak havoc on survivors and their families. Our Washington, D.C., pedestrian accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC, know how common (and serious) such accidents can be in many cases. The pedestrian or cyclist has little or no protection from the iron and steel of an oncoming car.

Can you turn right on red in Washington, D.C.?

Washington, D.C., currently allows drivers to turn right on red. But if the recent proposal is signed into law, turning right on red would be banned at all traffic lights in Washington, D.C., starting in 2025. In addition, cyclists would be able "to treat stop signs as yield signs if the intersection is clear of pedestrians and vehicles," according to DC'

Many cities and states allow drivers to turn right on red after stopping at a red light. If Washington, D.C., approves the recent proposal, it would become the second major city in the U.S. to ban right turns on red. New York City also prohibits drivers from turning right at a red light.

Turning right on red used to be prohibited but became legal in many places nationwide in the 1970s due to fuel shortages, according to DC' Now, many cities have started reconsidering the practice.

Why do intersection accidents happen?

Intersection accidents – especially crashes involving cyclists and pedestrians – often occur because someone was driving aggressively or recklessly or, more likely, is looking in the other direction for oncoming traffic, not thinking about or expecting a walker or cyclist coming across their path. Common examples include the following:

  • Running a red light and hitting a pedestrian or cyclist
  • Speeding and not having enough time or space to avoid a collision
  • Distracted or texting drivers who don't see cyclists or pedestrians until it's too late
  • Drunk drivers or drivers under the influence of drugs who hit pedestrians or cyclists
  • Tired drivers who hit pedestrians in a crosswalk or cyclists riding alongside a road
  • Pedestrians or cyclists who mistake they have the right away or don’t stay in their lane or use a crosswalk

Drivers need to share the road with pedestrians and cyclists. When they don't and cause pedestrian or bicycle accidents, they need to be held accountable for their actions. That's why injured pedestrians and cyclists need an attorney on their side, standing up for their rights.

At the same time, if you are walking or riding your bike at or near the roadway or desiring to cross the street, you need to be conscious of cars and other dangers around you. Never take for granted that a car or other vehicle is going to see you or stop. At night time, make sure you wear reflective clothing and/or have reflectors on your bike.

Why should I hire a pedestrian accident lawyer?

Injury claims and lawsuits can quickly develop into highly complex legal cases. Because of this, victims of major accidents should talk to a legal team that has experience successfully navigating the state's civil justice system.

A Washington, D.C., pedestrian accident attorney at the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC, can fight for the compensation you deserve. We know the laws that apply to serious and fatal accidents. We know what evidence to look for and how to build a strong legal case. That's why we have such a strong track record of success.

Learn more about your legal rights. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a law firm that can help you with your accident claim. We proudly represent injury victims in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

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