Can You Turn Right on Red in Texas?

Can You Turn Right on Red in Texas?

As a motorist, you know that there are rules of the road that you must follow. These are the traffic laws you must demonstrate proof that you’ve mastered before you’re able to secure a learner’s permit or unrestricted driver’s license.

However, not everyone remembers what they learn, nor are they asked to prove they’ve mastered each and every detail before obtaining their official driving privileges. One such detail many vehicle operators find it difficult to recall is the answer to the question, “Can you turn right on red in Texas?”

Keep reading, and we’ll refresh your memory as to what you’re supposed to do when you encounter a red light or give you this insight for perhaps the very first time if you’re traveling into or recently relocated to the Lone Star state.

Is Making a Right Turn at a Stop Light Allowed in the Lone Star State? 

According to Tex. Transp. Code § 544.007, the quick answer to the above question is yes. However, like most rules, there are exceptions to them. Let’s start by discussing circumstances under which you can affirmatively make a right on red.  

Those situations include:  

  • At a stop light after coming to a full or complete stop
  • After confirming that there’s no one entering or already inside the crosswalk in front of you or to your right (or initially yielding to them if there are)
  • At any intersection, unless there’s a sign that states that turning on red is illegal
  • After ensuring any motorists that have the right of way are allowed to go first

Why Do Some Intersections Allow for Turning on Red While Others Do Not? 

When you encounter a crossroads with a sign prohibiting turns at red lights, it’s for a reason. You should not only heed those signs because that’s what you’re supposed to do to comply with the law, but because they indicate a higher level of danger if you don’t.  

Most often, “no turn on red” signs are at intersections where: 

  • There is a heavier traffic flow traveling from the opposite direction
  • The area sees a significant amount of pedestrians, and they need more dedicated time without having to dodge vehicles to cross the street
  • You’re traveling into a school zone or into a community where someone who is blind resides where having ample time to cross could be helpful for their safety
  • If there’s limited visibility that makes it challenging to see oncoming traffic except once they’re extremely near (which would not give ample time for them to stop or avoid being crashed into if you crossed paths)
  • There has been a significant number of crashes at a particular intersection

What Happens If You Run a Red Traffic Light in Our State? 

Say you’re in a hurry and roll through the traffic light or simply don’t see the sign prohibiting you from turning and do the same. What happens?  

If a police officer sees what you do, you could end up with a citation for violating the above-referenced traffic code. Running a red light in Texas is a Class C misdemeanor that carries fines and potential points off your license. 

However, that’s not all that can happen if you run a red light. Traffic laws like the one that require motorists to stop before continuing to move through an intersection on red exist to minimize the chances of a driver violating another’s right of way. If you enter an active lane of traffic unexpectedly, you may not give another motorist ample time to swerve or stop their car without causing a crash.  

Thus, state laws like this minimize the chances of drivers becoming involved in a preventable crash. 

What Is the Connection Between Making a Turn on Red and Accident Rates 

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), at least 127,000 individuals suffered injuries, and 1,109 lost their lives in crashes where a driver ran a red light. IIHS contends enforcing traffic laws is critical to reducing injuries and fatalities stemming from these intersection accidents.  

They argue that red light cameras are effective in reducing crashes attributed to this by as much as 21%. 

All motorists need to be observant of the traffic signs and signals, including warnings highlighting when it’s unlawful to make right turns on red in Texas, especially if pedestrians or bicyclists are sharing the road.  

However, if, for some reason, they were not and you or a close family member suffered harm or lost their life due to that driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to take legal action. 

Our legal team here at Barrera Law Group LLC has a lengthy, successful track record of fighting for the rights of the injured and advocating for families of those who lost their lives in car accidents in Houston and elsewhere in Texas.