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Traffic Talk: Is it OK to turn right on red when there are two turn lanes?

Don Gammill: Right turns on red from second lane causes reader some to pose question
By Don Gammill, Staff Writer Published: August 4, 2014
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You’ve heard the saying “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” How about this one? “If it looks too easy to be true, it probably is.”

The stoplight at N Western and the westbound Kilpatrick (Turnpike) exit ramp has two right turn lanes. On occasions, I have been in the left lane (when) drivers behind have honked, wanting me to turn right on red. Is this legal?

— Cindy Jones

This is one of those intersections (and Oklahoma City has others like this) where things are not quite as simple as they seem, Cindy. The quick answer is “yes,” but with an addendum. Read on.

First, let me say that your answer comes from (1) on-site observation, (2) a review of Oklahoma City’s municipal code, (3) an examination of Oklahoma State Statutes, (4) a discussion with not one but two veteran driver training specialists, (5) a talk with a former Oklahoma City police officer who worked traffic for many years and is considered one of the most knowledgeable around, (6) a current officer who works traffic and (7) correspondence with city officials, who discussed this situation with their experts.

Everyone seemed to be in total agreement. So, let’s take a mental drive through that location, or most any other with the two right-turn lanes you cite.

In Oklahoma, as in most all other state, you can turn right on red if you first stop, signal, then proceed when you can do so safely. That includes both lanes. Again: stop, signal, proceed when it’s safe.

That’s your “yes.” Here’s the addendum.

If there is a sign that says “no right turn on red from center lane,” or “no right turn on red” without stipulating a lane, you are prohibited from doing so. There’s more.

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