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Left Turn On Red Not Allowed In Missouri

June 23, 2015 Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy, Transportation No Comments

People do it daily in downtown St. Louis — make a left turn on red from one one-way street onto another one-way street.

Driver makes a left onto 10th from Locust despite having a red light.
Driver makes a left onto 10th from Locust despite having a red light.

Missouri is actually one of a handful of states that doesn’t allow a left turn on red!  From Wikipedia:

In the U.S., 38 states and Puerto Rico allow left turns on red only if both the origin and destination streets are one way. (See South Carolina law Section 56-5-970 C3,[20] for example.)

Five other states, namely Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Oregon and Washington, allow left turns on red onto a one-way street even from a two-way street.[21][22][23][24][25]

The following states and territories ban left turns on red: South Dakota (unless permitted by local ordinance), Connecticut, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, the District of Columbia, and Guam.[citation needed] New York City also prohibits left turn on red lights, unless a sign indicates otherwise.[citation needed]

In Canada, left turn on red light from a one-way road into a one-way road is permitted except in some areas of Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island. Left turn on red light from a two-way road into a one-way road is permitted in British Columbia[26] but only if the driver turns onto the closest lane and yields to pedestrians and cross traffic.

Missouri law doesn’t ban the left turn on red — it just isn’t allowed the way a right turn is:

(3) Steady red indication 

(a) Vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal alone shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until a green indication is shown except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subdivision; 

(b) The driver of a vehicle which is stopped as close as practicable at the entrance to the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then at the entrance to the intersection in obedience to a red signal, may cautiously enter the intersection to make a right turn but shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and other traffic proceeding as directed by the signal at the intersection, except that the state highways and transportation commission with reference to an intersection involving a state highway, and local authorities with reference to an intersection involving other highways under their jurisdiction, may prohibit any such right turn against a red signal at any intersection where safety conditions so require, said prohibition shall be effective when a sign is erected at such intersection giving notice thereof; 

(c) Unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian control signal as provided in section 300.160, pedestrians facing a steady red signal alone shall not enter the roadway. 

(4) In the event an official traffic control signal is erected and maintained at a place other than an intersection, the provisions of this section shall be applicable except as to those provisions which by their nature can have no application. Any stop required shall be made at a sign or marking on the pavement indicating where the stop shall be made, but in the absence of any such sign or marking the stop shall be made at the signal. (Missouri Revised Statutes)

No mention of a left turn, only right turns are allowed under current Missouri law.

Twenty minutes later, at the same intersection as above, I see another driver turn left on red:

leftonred03I’m not suggesting we begin enforcing the law and give these drivers citations. No, I think we need to amend our state statutes to allow it. Even better, return these streets to two-way traffic.

— Steve Patterson



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