‘No Turn on Red’ policy expands in downtown Seattle

May 4, 2023, 6:03 PM | Updated: 6:26 pm

no turn on red...

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has expanded its ‘No Turn on Red’ restrictions at 41 downtown intersections as part of its Vision Zero goal — an initiative to end traffic-related deaths and severe injuries on Seattle city streets by 2030.

According to SDOT, 28 locations are complete, with the rest set to happen before Seattle hosts Major League Baseball All-Star Week, which is set to occur July 11.

“Let’s not trade people’s safety so people in cars can save a few seconds of waiting for their turn to go,” SDOT Director Greg Spotts said in a prepared statement. “Adding over 40 No Turn on Red intersections downtown is the first step in our plan to expand this proven safety measure to pedestrian-dense neighborhoods.”

Seattle’s Vision Zero becomes laser focused on District 2

This momentum-building action originates from the Vision Zero Top-to-Bottom review, commissioned by Spotts and Mayor Bruce Harrell, which found right turns account for 9% of all collisions with people crossing the street at Seattle’s signalized intersections.

There were approximately 100 Seattle intersections blocking right turns on a red light before this initiative.

“Implementing No Turn on Red restrictions makes a small, but meaningful, change to the traffic signal patterns at intersections,” SDOT wrote in a press release. “The change should not lead to noticeable delays for drivers, but makes a big difference on the comfort and safety of the most vulnerable travelers that are walking or rolling, especially when combined with other safety measures at intersections such as leading pedestrian intervals (LPI) and traffic calming treatments.”

SDOT even created an interactive map for residents to see where the planned No Turn on Red intersections will be.

“We are taking action to improve walkability and safety as part of our work to draw people to the heart of Seattle and make downtown a welcoming place,” Harrell wrote in a press release. “Together, we can make downtown a vibrant, dynamic, and safe space for all.”

Study says Seattle’s deadliest street is Aurora Avenue North

SDOT was recently awarded a $25.6 million federal grant earlier this year to help repair and mend the streets of Seattle, further advancing Seattle’s Vision Zero plan. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced the historic $800 million in grant awards for 510 projects nationwide, all in an effort to support the U.S. Department of Transportation’s comprehensive strategy to reduce roadway deaths — a crisis claiming more than 40,000 lives per year.

While the news is a celebration to some, others, including AM 770 KTTH host Jason Rantz, have criticized the decision publicly, claiming it’s a waste of both resources and time.

As people are being shot, stabbed, assaulted, and dying from drug overdoses, @MayorofSeattle is hard at work banning right turns,” Rantz wrote on Twitter. “Now, traffic will be worse and more cars will spew pollutants into the city air. Great priorities. Seattle is thriving.”


Turning right at a red light was illegal in most cities, including Seattle, until a few decades ago, according to SDOT. Seattle did not make it legal to turn right at a red light until 1959. Sixteen years later, the federal government — through the Energy Policy and Conservation Act — required all states to allow right turns on red to reduce fuel consumption and faster driving times.

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