Rep. Henry Aquino, chair of the House Transportation Committee, wasn’t available for comment. Sen. Lorraine Inouye, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said she’s still deciding whether or not to give the bill a hearing.
Inouye said it doesn’t seem necessary to change state law since counties already have authority over their roadways.
“If they want to, they can ban those right turns,” she said. “I’m pleased, though, that the city recognizes that something has to be done for fatalities and accidents on their streets.”
It’s not clear, locally or nationally, how much of an impact right-hand turns at red lights have on traffic accidents.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
The state Department of Transportation did not respond to a request for data on pedestrians hit by cars making right-hand turns at red lights. National data is also sparse.
Mainland proponents of banning right turns at red lights often cite a 1984 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that said crashes at intersections increased when legalization of right turns at red lights became more common in the 1970s.
Crashes related to right turns at red lights increased 23 percent, pedestrian accidents increased 60 percent, and bicycle crashes increased 100 percent, the study found.
A 2002 study in San Francisco found that, of 100 pedestrian collisions selected at random, none was caused by drivers turning right on red. However, researchers did find that 12 collisions in that sample were caused by drivers turning right on green lights.
“It is intuitive that accidents involving right turn on green are relatively more severe than right turn on red, as vehicles in the former case are moving nearly at full speed,” the study said.
Washington, D.C., already has plans to outlaw right turns against red lights at 100 intersections across the district’s eight wards. The intersections were picked based on crash history and pedestrian activity, according to the district’s Department of Transportation.
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Blaze Lovell is a reporter for Civil Beat and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was born and raised on Oahu. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @blaze_lovell