Dem-Run City Passes Ordinance Banning Right Turns At Red Lights, The Reason Why Is The Interesting Part

By Lisa Pelgin | Wednesday, 21 February 2024 05:15 AM
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In a move aimed at enhancing pedestrian safety, the Atlanta City Council has ratified a new city ordinance prohibiting right turns at red traffic signals in specific neighborhoods.

Councilman Jason Dozier, who championed the legislation, expressed his delight at the outcome. "We did it! Thank you to my colleagues for adopting my legislation prohibiting turns at red lights in central Atlanta!" he said. "Pedestrian safety and quality of life go hand in hand, and I'm deeply proud of our work to make our streets safer for our most vulnerable people."

The new law will apply to Downtown Atlanta, Midtown Atlanta, and the Castleberry Hill community, with implementation slated for the start of 2026. This delay is to allow the city's Department of Transportation sufficient time to install appropriate signage at the affected intersections.

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Council members who backed the ordinance highlighted that the areas now subject to the right-on-red ban are hubs of cultural attractions, businesses, and residences, resulting in substantial pedestrian traffic. They argue that the measure will not only enhance pedestrian safety but also foster a sense of community, promote social interaction, and support local businesses, thereby contributing to the overall quality of life.

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Councilman Dozier, who co-sponsored the legislation, had previously informed Fox News Digital that the ordinance was proposed in response to a significant increase in pedestrian injuries and fatalities due to vehicular collisions in Atlanta. "We've seen a 50% increase in pedestrian deaths since 2020, and 38 pedestrians died on Atlanta's streets last year as a consequence," Dozier said in an emailed statement.

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Propel ATL, an organization advocating for pedestrian and cyclist rights, has stated that many residents are in favor of the change. "Turning right on red poses significant risks to the most vulnerable...people in wheelchairs, seniors, and people on bikes and scooters," said Rebecca Serna, Propel ATL Executive Director, at a January meeting, as reported by FOX 5 Atlanta.

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However, the ban has not been without its critics, who have voiced concerns over the more than $100,000 required to install signs at the impacted red lights. They argue that this will divert Department of Transportation resources from other more pressing projects.

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Despite these concerns, supporters maintain that if the red light ban proves successful, it could be extended to other parts of the city, according to FOX 5 Atlanta.

The move by Atlanta is not an isolated one. Several U.S. cities have been considering similar bans in response to a significant increase in accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists. The Washington, D.C. City Council approved a right-on-red ban in 2023, set to take effect in 2025. In Chicago, Mayor Brandon Johnson’s transition plan included a proposal to restrict right turns on red, although specifics have yet to be provided. Ann Arbor, Michigan, has already implemented such a ban in its downtown area.

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San Francisco leaders recently voted to urge their transportation agency to ban right on red across the city. Other major cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle, and Denver, are also considering similar measures.

New York City has a longstanding prohibition on right turns at red lights, with large signs in Manhattan alerting drivers to this restriction.

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However, there is a lack of recent research on the number of people nationwide injured or killed by right-turning drivers. Both advocates for the bans and critics have referenced a 1994 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to Congress, which analyzed crash data from Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, and Illinois. The report recorded 558 injury crashes and four fatalities caused by right turns on red.

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