Who makes a left turn on red?

Useless sign near PATH station in Hoboken, NJ

Down at the intersection of Hudson Place and River Street by the PATH Station there’s a sign for eastbound traffic that reads: “No Turn on Red.”

What I don’t understand is why this is even necessary. Usually, a right turn on red is allowed in most cases (unless specified). I’ve never heard of a left turn on red anywhere. Are today’s drivers so idiotic that they would even attempt this if there was no specific signage instructing them not to?

Probably just another way to pad the sign manufacturers contract or something. What next, signs like “running over pedestrians is prohibited?”

31 Responses

  1. JOEJOEJOE says:

    But it turns on to a one way street, right? So it makes sense.

  2. BklynHobo says:

    Actually it is allowed in some states if it is 1 way turning left onto another one way. That said, NJ is not one of those states so the sign is redundant. This allowed in NY except in NYC, just like the right on red.

    • hoboken411 says:

      @Bklyn – so because other states have differing laws means that states that don’t have those laws have to compensate? Still seems unnecessary to me if there is no law in NJ that allows left turn on red.[quote comment=”217074″]Actually it is allowed in some states if it is 1 way turning left onto another one way. That said, NJ is not one of those states so the sign is redundant. This allowed in NY except in NYC, just like the right on red.
      [/quote]

      • BklynHobo says:

        No I agree with you, it is silly that they have the sign there since it is not allowed anywhere in NJ. I just mentioned that it is common in other states, including NY, since you said you had never heard of a left on red anywhere else.[quote comment=”217078″]@Bklyn – so because other states have differing laws means that states that don’t have those laws have to compensate? Still seems unnecessary to me if there is no law in NJ that allows left turn on red.[/quote]

  3. BklynHobo says:

    And in case you were wondering, the only states that a left on red is not allowed when it’s a oneway onto a oneway are: Connecticut, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin and Washington DC.

  4. homeworld says:

    In New Jersey, there is no law that prohibits you from making a left turn (after a complete stop) on red onto another one-way street where one-way traffic is also heading to your left (unless there is a posted sign that prohibits it).

    In the U.S., the following states and territories ban left turns on red:
    South Dakota,Connecticut, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, the District of Columbia, Guam, and NYC.

    driversedguru.com/driving-articles/...as/can-you-make-a-left-turn-on-red/

    And here is the federal law that permits it: 42 U.S.C. 6322 (c)5

    “to the maximum extent practicable consistent with safety, permits the operator of a motor vehicle to turn such vehicle right at a red stop light after stopping and to turn such vehicle left from a one-way street onto a one-way street at a red light after stopping;”

    • BklynHobo says:

      Not sure who’s crappy website it right, but I am just going to play it safe and not turn left on red in NJ….

      All states permit drivers to turn right on a red signal after a complete stop if the intersection is not designated otherwise by posted signs. New York City now is the only major jurisdiction that prohibits the turn. According to the Federal Highway Administration, fewer accidents occur when drivers turn right on a red light than when they turn right on a green light. The statute also saves each driver an average of 14 seconds at a turn, cuts gasoline consumption and exhaust emissions, and allows intersections to handle more traffic.

      **Forty-one states permit left turns on a red signal, but only after a complete stop and only from a one-way street into another one-way street. Those states that prohibit the turn are: Connecticut, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. The District of Columbia and New York City also prohibit the turn.**

      Read more: answers.com/topic/which-states-allo...n-on-a-red-light#ixzz26NfEeaTUquote comment=”217081″]In New Jersey, there is no law that prohibits you from making a left turn (after a complete stop) on red onto another one-way street where one-way traffic is also heading to your left (unless there is a posted sign that prohibits it).In the U.S., the following states and territories ban left turns on red: South Dakota,Connecticut, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, the District of Columbia, Guam, and NYC.And here is the federal law that permits it: 42 U.S.C. 6322 (c)5 “to the maximum extent practicable consistent with safety, permits the operator of a motor vehicle to turn such vehicle right at a red stop light after stopping and to turn such vehicle left from a one-way street onto a one-way street at a red light after stopping;”[/quote]

      • Craig-D says:

        I’m a lawyer, so let me settle this. Turning left on red is illegal in NJ. Here’s why:

        The law (NJSA 39:4-115) specifically allows for a right on red unless otherwise posted. The statute dealing with left turns (N.J.S.A. 39:4-123) is silent on left turns on red. In fact, there is no NJ statute mentioning a left on red. If the legislature intended for left turns on red lights to be permitted, it would have specifically stated as such like it did for right turns on red lights.

        So if it’s illegal, why is the sign there then? One, not everyone is clear on the law (as has been demonstrated in this thread); and two, there are many states where it is allowed – so the sign lets those out of state drivers know that it’s not permitted in what is one of the most heavily crossed intersections by pedestrians the state of NJ. There’s nothing wrong with being too safe.[quote comment=”217096″]Not sure who’s crappy website it right, but I am just going to play it safe and not turn left on red in NJ….All states permit drivers to turn right on a red signal after a complete stop if the intersection is not designated otherwise by posted signs. New York City now is the only major jurisdiction that prohibits the turn. According to the Federal Highway Administration, fewer accidents occur when drivers turn right on a red light than when they turn right on a green light. The statute also saves each driver an average of 14 seconds at a turn, cuts gasoline consumption and exhaust emissions, and allows intersections to handle more traffic.**Forty-one states permit left turns on a red signal, but only after a complete stop and only from a one-way street into another one-way street. Those states that prohibit the turn are: Connecticut, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. The District of Columbia and New York City also prohibit the turn.**Read more: [/quote]

      • BklynHobo says:

        Why thank you for your informative and helpful post![quote comment=”217124″]I’m a lawyer, so let me settle this. Turning left on red is illegal in NJ. Here’s why:The law (NJSA 39:4-115) specifically allows for a right on red unless otherwise posted. The statute dealing with left turns (N.J.S.A. 39:4-123) is silent on left turns on red. In fact, there is no NJ statute mentioning a left on red. If the legislature intended for left turns on red lights to be permitted, it would have specifically stated as such like it did for right turns on red lights.So if it’s illegal, why is the sign there then? One, not everyone is clear on the law (as has been demonstrated in this thread); and two, there are many states where it is allowed – so the sign lets those out of state drivers know that it’s not permitted in what is one of the most heavily crossed intersections by pedestrians the state of NJ. There’s nothing wrong with being too safe.[/quote]

      • MidnightRacer says:

        An action is only illegal if a person has violated a published and enacted law. If the law is silent or missing on a specific act, the person is not violating an existing law, so there cannot be a violation.

        Positive law either grants a privilege or takes away one. On certain streets, there might be a legal sign that say RIGHT TURN ONLY, which is covered by positive law. However, if no sign is present on 2 intersecting 1-way streets and the direction is left, then the driver is violating no law, since there is no positive law published.[quote comment=”217124″]I’m a lawyer, so let me settle this. Turning left on red is illegal in NJ. Here’s why:The law (NJSA 39:4-115) specifically allows for a right on red unless otherwise posted. The statute dealing with left turns (N.J.S.A. 39:4-123) is silent on left turns on red. In fact, there is no NJ statute mentioning a left on red. If the legislature intended for left turns on red lights to be permitted, it would have specifically stated as such like it did for right turns on red lights.So if it’s illegal, why is the sign there then? One, not everyone is clear on the law (as has been demonstrated in this thread); and two, there are many states where it is allowed – so the sign lets those out of state drivers know that it’s not permitted in what is one of the most heavily crossed intersections by pedestrians the state of NJ. There’s nothing wrong with being too safe.[/quote]

      • Craig-D says:

        An interesting take on the law Midnight Racer. I’ll tell you what: Why don’t you test out your legal theory and start making regular left turns on red in NJ (preferably with a police cruiser nearby) and tell that how it works out for you. Good luck with that.[quote comment=”218540″]An action is only illegal if a person has violated a published and enacted law. If the law is silent or missing on a specific act, the person is not violating an existing law, so there cannot be a violation.Positive law either grants a privilege or takes away one. On certain streets, there might be a legal sign that say RIGHT TURN ONLY, which is covered by positive law. However, if no sign is present on 2 intersecting 1-way streets and the direction is left, then the driver is violating no law, since there is no positive law published.[/quote]

      • MidnightRacer says:

        Craig, the reason I ever responded to this thread is due to the claim, from you, that the law is silent on left turns on red. Now your last post previous to this says the law actually really is NOT silent, as I actually said in my previous post. As I said, if the law is silent on a thing, a violation cannot occur. Here, it is not silent. Moving on… I did read it again, and it clearly speaks on left or right turns on red with the following excerpt:

        NJSA 39:4-115) …”only upon the “go” signal unless otherwise directed by a traffic or police officer, an official sign or special signal”…

        The law doesn’t specify left or right, which means the general and not specific, including left and right turns on red. If the township or county officials sees fit, they can place a sign that reads something like left turn on red after full stop. After all, the statute is title with left and right turns in the context of traffic light:

        39:4-115. Making right or left turn

        39:4-115. The driver of a vehicle or the motorman of a streetcar: a. intending to turn to the right or left at an intersection where traffic is controlled by traffic control signals or by a traffic or police officer, shall proceed to make either turn with proper care to avoid accidents and, except as provided in b. below, only upon the “go” signal unless otherwise directed by a traffic or police officer, an official sign or special signal; or b. intending to turn right at an intersection where traffic is controlled by a traffic control signal shall, unless an official sign of the State, municipality, or county authority having jurisdiction over the intersection prohibits the same, proceed to make the turn upon a “stop” or “caution” signal with proper care to avoid accidents after coming to a full stop, observing traffic in all directions, yielding to other vehicular traffic traveling in a direction in which the turn will be made, and stopping and remaining stopped for pedestrians crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk, or at an unmarked crosswalk, into which the driver is turning. Both the approach for and the turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, unless such intersection is otherwise posted. [quote comment=”217124″]I’m a lawyer, so let me settle this. Turning left on red is illegal in NJ. Here’s why:The law (NJSA 39:4-115) specifically allows for a right on red unless otherwise posted. The statute dealing with left turns (N.J.S.A. 39:4-123) is silent on left turns on red. In fact, there is no NJ statute mentioning a left on red. If the legislature intended for left turns on red lights to be permitted, it would have specifically stated as such like it did for right turns on red lights.So if it’s illegal, why is the sign there then? One, not everyone is clear on the law (as has been demonstrated in this thread); and two, there are many states where it is allowed – so the sign lets those out of state drivers know that it’s not permitted in what is one of the most heavily crossed intersections by pedestrians the state of NJ. There’s nothing wrong with being too safe.[/quote]

  5. HobKM says:

    There is no oncoming traffic from the left or front that would lead to an accident. Why would you not make a left on red? The sign makes complete sense.

    • Mrs. L says:

      The streets would be paved in blood if drivers turned left on red.[quote comment=”217082″]There is no oncoming traffic from the left or front that would lead to an accident. Why would you not make a left on red? The sign makes complete sense.[/quote]

      • HobKM says:

        Quite a generalization and irrelevant as to whether the sign makes sense.

        From a drivers perspective, common sense reveals that this left on red is safer than a conventional right on red. Why? Because you are crossing no opposing lanes as you enter the one way street from a one way street, AND you have no approaching traffic entering the intersection from the right side which could lead to a potential rear end accident. This second condition is not true for the normal right on right and thus less safe, and yet states deem drivers competent enough to execute this maneuver. The left on red is justifiable in the intersection setup.

        As IANMAC correctly alluded to, the sign protects pedestrians at this heavily trafficked Hoboken intersection. “So yeah, that sign is necessary.”[quote comment=”217084″]The streets would be paved in blood if drivers turned left on red.[/quote]

      • mooshu says:

        Actually, from a pedestrian’s perspective, if you maneuver across Hoboken streets often enough, you do so with the realization that Mrs. L’s comment is anything but a “generalization” and “irrelevant”.

        [quote comment=”217106″]Quite a generalization and irrelevant as to whether the sign makes sense.From a drivers perspective, common sense reveals that this left on red is safer than a conventional right on red. Why? Because you are crossing no opposing lanes as you enter the one way street from a one way street, AND you have no approaching traffic entering the intersection from the right side which could lead to a potential rear end accident. This second condition is not true for the normal right on right and thus less safe, and yet states deem drivers competent enough to execute this maneuver. The left on red is justifiable in the intersection setup.As IANMAC correctly alluded to, the sign protects pedestrians at this heavily trafficked Hoboken intersection. “So yeah, that sign is necessary.”[/quote]

      • HobKM says:

        Excellent addition mooshu, bravo. The article and comments pertain to a specific intersection and specific sign, not “streets” as you say. Furthermore, the sign is for drivers, not a “pedestrian perspective”. So if we are straying off topic to comment on pedestrian safety in all of Hoboken general, then I’m willing to bet turning RIGHT causes just as many accidents as left. In fact, I”m willing to go out on a limb and say that driving blindfolded is hazardous to pedestrians as well; all of which is irrelevant as to whether or not the sign makes sense at the specific intersection. In case this wasn’t processed either, I clearly stated that the sign is there to protect pedestrians, and it therefore makes sense. [quote comment=”217113″]Actually, from a pedestrian’s perspective, if you maneuver across Hoboken streets often enough, you do so with the realization that Mrs. L’s comment is anything but a “generalization” and “irrelevant”.[/quote]

      • mooshu says:

        Love you, too, dear.[quote comment=”217125″]Excellent addition mooshu, bravo. The article and comments pertain to a specific intersection and specific sign, not “streets” as you say. Furthermore, the sign is for drivers, not a “pedestrian perspective”. So if we are straying off topic to comment on pedestrian safety in all of Hoboken general, then I’m willing to bet turning RIGHT causes just as many accidents as left. In fact, I”m willing to go out on a limb and say that driving blindfolded is hazardous to pedestrians as well; all of which is irrelevant as to whether or not the sign makes sense at the specific intersection. In case this wasn’t processed either, I clearly stated that the sign is there to protect pedestrians, and it therefore makes sense.[/quote]

      • westcoastbound says:

        HobKM, don’t bother with mooshu. It’s giving her unfounded credit to say she isn’t the brightest bulb on the porch. She writes a lot with very little substance and a whole lot of ill-informed bravado. My advice: don’t respond. No one takes her seriously anyway.[quote comment=”217125″]Excellent addition mooshu, bravo. The article and comments pertain to a specific intersection and specific sign, not “streets” as you say. Furthermore, the sign is for drivers, not a “pedestrian perspective”. So if we are straying off topic to comment on pedestrian safety in all of Hoboken general, then I’m willing to bet turning RIGHT causes just as many accidents as left. In fact, I”m willing to go out on a limb and say that driving blindfolded is hazardous to pedestrians as well; all of which is irrelevant as to whether or not the sign makes sense at the specific intersection. In case this wasn’t processed either, I clearly stated that the sign is there to protect pedestrians, and it therefore makes sense.[/quote]

  6. ianmac47 says:

    I get that your whole schtick is “curmudgeonly old man yells at cloud,” but are you really so smoothed brained to not see the value of reminding drivers — many of whom are out of state — that they shouldn’t try to turn on red? This is the most heavily traffic pedestrian intersection in the city. The red signal is long. There is no road on the right, and the “street” in front is a cobblestone parking lot for yellow cabs, so the usual visual cues for drivers don’t exist here to warn them that they shouldn’t try turning here. And finally, Hoboken’s drivers are pretty stupid when it comes to pedestrians at an ordinary four way intersection. So yeah, that sign is necessary.

    • hoboken411 says:

      @Ian – not yelling at clouds – but rather a bit concerned about the lack of basic common sense and patience from the public in general – and more so over the past couple years. If you don’t agree that it’s gotten progressively worse (not sure how old you are), then you probably aren’t paying attention as much as I do. It’s time to run when we see signs reminding people how to walk (“left, right, left, right…”)

  7. mooshu says:

    Hee hee. HobKM and westcoastbound: a friendship made in heaven!

  8. homeworld says:

    “You may make a left turn on a red light only from a one-way street into another one-way street, unless otherwise posted.”

    http://www.newjerseystatedriver.com/topics/index.php?tid=66

  9. MidnightRacer says:

    Craig, my response was to your assertion that the NJ law is silent re: left turns on red. My contention is that if the law is silent, a person cannot violated a law that does not exist. That’s fairly clear. Unless I’m wrong, N.J.S.A. 39:4-115 speaks directly to left and right turns on red, by stating “only upon the “go” signal”. Since the wording is shall + only, it restricts turns on lights to green only, unless an exception exists; signs, traffic cop, etc.

    Maybe I’m missing the part where you say it’s silent. It looks clear to me.

    • Craig-D says:

      @MidnightRacer – Read it again. The statute states the you can only turn on a “go” signal. A “go” signal is a green light. It then states the one specific exception of that rule is right turns (unless otherwise posted). There is no exception for left turns. Without a specific exception for left turns, the turn only on a “go” signal law still applies to left turns. So the law is not realy silent. It’s telling you can’t make any turns on red – except if it’s a right turn in an intersection without a sign saying no right turns.

      But don’t take my word for it. Feel free to not accept my interpretation and try a left on red in front of a cop. Tell us what happens.[quote comment=”218573″]Craig, my response was to your assertion that the NJ law is silent re: left turns on red. My contention is that if the law is silent, a person cannot violated a law that does not exist. That’s fairly clear. Unless I’m wrong, N.J.S.A. 39:4-115 speaks directly to left and right turns on red, by stating “only upon the “go” signal”. Since the wording is shall + only, it restricts turns on lights to green only, unless an exception exists; signs, traffic cop, etc.Maybe I’m missing the part where you say it’s silent. It looks clear to me.[/quote]

      • MidnightRacer says:

        It doesn’t read as one exception, but actually two. You’re looking only at b. as an exception and missing the first. It would seem that in b. exception, it allows rights on red in general but gives authority to remove right turns on red permission given the local authority’s decision. So it would seem the statute allow for left and right turns on red if a sign permits it for left, or a sign does not permit it on right. That’s how I read it anyway.

        Part a. (first line in statute) deals with left and right turns at traffic lights and includes the exception for left and right turns. The driver can turn left or right on the green light only, unless an official sign (or police officer) permits a left or right after full stop.

        Part b. (the 2nd exception) deals with right turns only. It seems to say that a driver cannot turn right on red if an official sign or police officer directs no right turn is permitted.

        To make it more simple to see, I’ll snip the clauses (indicated by symbol […]) for a more direct view.

        39:4-115. The driver […] intending to turn to the right or left at an intersection where traffic is controlled by traffic control signals […], shall proceed to make either turn […] only upon the “go” signal unless otherwise directed by […] an official sign

        b. intending to turn right at an intersection where traffic is controlled by a traffic control signal shall, unless an official sign […] prohibits the same, proceed to make the turn upon a “stop”[quote comment=”218595″]@MidnightRacer – Read it again. The statute states the you can only turn on a “go” signal. A “go” signal is a green light. It then states the one specific exception of that rule is right turns (unless otherwise posted). There is no exception for left turns. Without a specific exception for left turns, the turn only on a “go” signal law still applies to left turns. So the law is not realy silent. It’s telling you can’t make any turns on red – except if it’s a right turn in an intersection without a sign saying no right turns.But don’t take my word for it. Feel free to not accept my interpretation and try a left on red in front of a cop. Tell us what happens.[/quote]

  10. homeworld says:

    Craig, are you saying that the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission-approved driver’s education website is lying?

    “You may make a left turn on a red light only from a one-way street into another one-way street, unless otherwise posted.”

    http://www.newjerseystatedriver.com/topics/index.php?tid=66

    • Craig-D says:

      @homeworld – just because that site says it’s “NJ MVC approved” doesn’t mean it’s true – nor does it mean that the MVC actually reviewed the site’s contents. You’ll notice that that site has several footnotes citing statutes backing up its various statements on proper driving procedure. Perhaps you’ll also notice that there is curiously no footnote for that particular sentence you copied. That’s because they couldn’t cite to anything backing up that particular statement – there is no law allowing a left on red in NJ. The law in NJ is:

      “The driver of a vehicle or the motorman
      of a streetcar a. intending to turn to the right or left
      at an intersection where traffic is controlled by
      traffic control signals or by a traffic or police officer,
      shall proceed to make either turn with proper care to
      avoid accidents and, except as provided in b. below
      only upon the “Go” signal unless otherwise directed
      by a traffic or police officer, an official sign or
      special signal; or b. intending to turn right at an
      intersection where traffic is controlled by a traffic
      control signal shall, unless an official sign of the
      State, municipality, or county authority having
      jurisdiction over the intersection prohibits the same”
      – NJSA 39:4-115

      In layman’s terms: no turns at taffic signals without a green light unless a traffic officer, sign, or special signal tells you otherwise. The lone exception (provided in item “b” above), is right turns. Those can be made on red. No exception is made for left turns of any kind without a “go” signal. Hence they are illegal.[quote comment=”218579″]Craig, are you saying that the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission-approved driver’s education website is lying?“You may make a left turn on a red light only from a one-way street into another one-way street, unless otherwise posted.”[/quote]

  11. MidnightRacer says:

    Maybe that was messy, I’m make it shorter:

    Here’s the statute excerpt on making left and right turns:

    39:4-115. The driver of a vehicle or the motorman of a streetcar: a. intending to turn to the right or left at an intersection where traffic is controlled by traffic control signals or by a traffic or police officer, shall proceed to make either turn with proper care to avoid accidents and, except as provided in b. below, only upon the “go” signal unless otherwise directed by a traffic or police officer, an official sign

    I interpreted that to give authority for officials to place an [official sign] at a red light that allows left or right turns on red. When the specific is absent and the context is left and right turns, the general applies. Left turns on red in NJ are possible given an official sign that reads left turn permitted after full stop.

    • xxrjxx says:

      I have to say that I admire the simplicity of the statement “I’m a lawyer, so let me settle this.” As if lawyers have the market cornered on an ability to read and interpret statutes and others are precluded from doing so. I’ve worked with many lawyers in my time, and found most of them to be really quite…how do I put this…stupid.[quote comment=”218600″]Maybe that was messy, I’m make it shorter:Here’s the statute excerpt on making left and right turns:39:4-115. The driver of a vehicle or the motorman of a streetcar: a. intending to turn to the right or left at an intersection where traffic is controlled by traffic control signals or by a traffic or police officer, shall proceed to make either turn with proper care to avoid accidents and, except as provided in b. below, only upon the “go” signal unless otherwise directed by a traffic or police officer, an official signI interpreted that to give authority for officials to place an [official sign] at a red light that allows left or right turns on red. When the specific is absent and the context is left and right turns, the general applies. Left turns on red in NJ are possible given an official sign that reads left turn permitted after full stop.[/quote]

      • homeworld says:

        How do you know if someone is a lawyer?

        They’ll tell you.[quote comment=”218607″]I have to say that I admire the simplicity of the statement “I’m a lawyer, so let me settle this.” As if lawyers have the market cornered on an ability to read and interpret statutes and others are precluded from doing so. I’ve worked with many lawyers in my time, and found most of them to be really quite…how do I put this…stupid.[/quote]

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