In one of my blog posts (“Stuck In Traffic” at www.naplesnews.com/blogs), recently published as a Guest Commentary in the NDN, I made the assertion that one must not proceed through a traffic signal showing a red arrow for right turn.
In a more recent Letter to the Editor (LTE), Mr. Dan Olson took me to task for making such an erroneous statement. I was aghast! Could I have been wrong? Was I not the expert that some proclaimed me to be, especially in my own mind? Alas, all too true.
Mr. Olson is correct. As a matter of fact, he also brought up another very good point about traffic signal phasing, but more on that in a moment. First my mea culpa…
In my blog post, I was discussing another reader’s LTE in which that reader was railing against the red-light cameras and against drivers’ option to turn right on red. In that commentary, I quoted what I believed to be the correct portion of the Florida Statutes which sets forth how one must respond to a traffic signal (F.S. Ch. 316.0765). I made the bold statement: “If you have a red arrow, you must wait until it is replaced by a green arrow or a green ball indication.”
Mr. Olson, in his response, quoted the Florida Drivers’ Handbook regarding turning right when facing a red arrow. He stated, correctly, that one must stop and then one may proceed when it is determined that it is clear to do so.
I did a little more research and found corroboration of Mr. Olson's statement at the FDOT Traffic Operations office web site. One may, indeed, move against a red arrow, unless specifically prohibited by a sign, when the way is clear to do so.
Thank you. Mr. Olson for being correct and for forcing me to do a little more fact checking and to not necessarily rely on my background, training or intuition.
Mr. Olson, in his original response to my column, also suggested that more general use of the protected right turn or “right turn overlap” function at signalized intersections would also go a long way toward improving the environment and reducing right turn on red violations.
This type of signal phasing provides a green arrow for drivers desiring to make a right turn(s) while the opposing lane(s) makes a left turn(s). For example, if you are traveling north on Airport Road and want to turn right at Vanderbilt Beach Road, a protected right turn would permit you to do so while others are turning left from Vanderbilt Beach Road onto Airport Road. The Airport Road through and left turn movements are seeing a red light during this signal phase.
Again, I would generally agree with Mr. Olson, however, this type of site-specific tweak is not a panacea. There are a number of things that must be considered to assure that both vehicles and pedestrians can move safely during these signal cycles.
So, bottom line here is that I appreciate being taken to task for a bad call and I will try mightily to keep this type of gaffe from happening again.
Thanks, Mr. Olson.