During the last couple of years, I have been asked a question that those of us in the business consider to be common knowledge. However, since I have had so many questions about it, I thought I should put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard in this case) and clear up any confusion that you may have about traffic lights and intersections.
Recently, here in Bartow, we have had some great upgrades to the Highway 98 and Van Fleet corridor which includes major enhancements to the intersections. Most of us remember that prior to these enhancements we continuously had traffic jams through the main intersection in town. With the new intersections, there were also some changes that had to be made for the safe flow of traffic. These changes specifically relate to the right turn on red.
Driving in Florida has not changed much in the last half century. Most of us are aware that in Florida you can make a right turn on a red signal after you have come to a complete stop and ensure that there is no oncoming traffic. That has changed recently with the Van Fleet intersection if you are traveling west and intend to turn right on to Highway 98. This intersection, thank goodness, was increased by one right turn lane. Those two lanes are intentionally posted by the Florida Department of Transportation as “No Turn on Red.” In other words, you cannot make a right turn on red here even if the travel lanes are clear.
The limitations on turning on red are done so for everyone’s safety. This intersection and turn lanes work in conjunction with multiple other lanes at one time. It is important that you understand that you may not be looking in the right direction for oncoming traffic necessarily. It is also a moving violation under Florida Law if you make a turn there when the light is red.
The simplest way to remember this rule is that you can make a right turn on red in Florida at any intersection once you have come to a complete stop, provided you do not pull out in front of anyone so closely as to create a hazard-unless there is a sign that dictates otherwise.
Joe Hall is the chief of police at the Bartow Police Department.