Q: How to Right Turn on Red Light


Question: Say I’m coming to a intersection and making a right turn on red. After stopping at the stop line can I slowly start to creep forward? Can I slowly start to turn the car to the right? Or must I stay behind the stop line until I make the turn? What if I can’t see traffic when I’m trying to make a right and the only way to get a view is to creep up just a little bit past the stop line?

NOT like this:

This is an illegal turn (and automatic fail on the road test) because the car did not stop for the red light.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMIdaUSMnxw[/embedyt]

Is it legal?

After you stop please check and make sure the right on red is allowed..



Wait for all the pedestrians..





If you can’t see well, it’s sometimes due to parked vehicles. The vehicle driving down the road has to fit beside the parked vehicles in order to avoid crashing into them … (duh) so YES you may roll forwards up to the point near the edge of the parked cars. You have to do this in order to make sure your turn is going to be safe.

If you don’t slowly inch forward to make sure it’s safe, then the other option is just to wait for the light to go green; and there is nothing wrong with that option at all. What is NOT an option is just to blindly turn, hoping and praying there is nothing coming!

Keep in mind there is some additional space between the parked car and the car driving down the road (1 meter is recommended, but it may be much closer in certain cases).

In this example, there is for sure some “wiggle room” between the white stopping line where you first stop, and the point that your car is still not  in the way of the cars coming. When you are stopped at the red light, you must figure out how much “wiggle room” you have to work with.




Here is a different example.

It’s a road with 2 narrow lanes. You have a lot smaller of a “wiggle room” to work with here..




It might look like this




Or this




Vehicle position/angle


Depending on the particular intersection, you may keep your vehicle straight or start to turn it. Usually it is best to start the turn at the same time you would if you were at that same intersection but not stopping.

Think of it like a slow motion right turn. If you weren’t stopping, when would you start to do the steering? You would not want to do the turn like this if you were not stopping.. but this “wide” right turns happens to new drivers if they keep the vehicle completely straight for too long before turning.




You just want it to look like a normal right turn




Keep your eyes moving


Remember to scan to the area to your right for pedestrians constantly; do not just stare at the traffic coming from your left.

If a pedestrian appears after this point, try and encourage them to go behind your vehicle as this is safer than going in front of it.

That is fine. You did not do anything wrong. You stopped originally and yielded to all of the pedestrians.

It is illegal to reverse on a crosswalk anyway, so just stay put.

Caution in backing vehicle (Motor Vehicle Act)
193 The driver of a vehicle must not cause the vehicle to move backwards into an intersection or over a crosswalk, and must not in any event or at any place cause a vehicle to move backwards unless the movement can be made in safety.

If you’re thinking about turning right on a red light in an area where there are tonnes of pedestrians (i.e. downtown Vancouver) then perhaps it’s a better idea to just wait until the light goes green to avoid potentially inconveniencing a large number of pedestrians.




Yellow Lights


Keep an eye on the traffic light for the other traffic. When it goes yellow, it means someone else is going to get the green soon, and it’s your job to figure out who that is. If you don’t know, wait. It may be you (AND pedestrians will start walking on the crosswalk parallel) OR it may be some other vehicles; perhaps ones that are turning left with an arrow.




You get the green..




Maybe these vehicles get the green left arrow:




Or maybe these ones:




… In which case you can probably turn at the same time.

Shoulder Check


Always right shoulder check before (not at the same time as) your turn. That’s to make sure there are no cyclists or pedestrians in the blind spot.




Watch for cars doing illegal U-Turns in the intersection, too. Fabulous way to have an “accident”




Remember to check your mirror after turning. It’s good to know if there’s traffic coming quickly (try to speed up to match the flow of traffic or up to the speed limit anyway). There may be an emergency vehicle coming behind or something else..



Be careful with the right on red. You got a RED LIGHT.. This means you have NO “Right of way” .

Other drivers who are lawfully proceeding through the intersection on a GREEN LIGHT should NOT have to slow down for you, roll their eyes at you, swear at you, worry about you, steer around you, or otherwise do evasive actions as the result of your right turn on a RED LIGHT! /end rant  😉 🙂

Drive carefully everyone & thanks for the great Q Niz.

Video Demo



7 thoughts on “Q: How to Right Turn on Red Light”

  1. Hello,

    Couple days ago I was driving in Richmond and needed to turn right on red light. The situation was the same like on this picture ( http://drivinginstructorblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/FOR_BLOG_17.jpg ). The only difference there was also green (or rather white, haha) light to pedestrians.

    As I didn’t view what is happening on the left I forced to drive forward a little bit and my car fully blocked crosswalk with a green light for pedestrians. I decided to do that because there were no pedestrians at all in at least 50m around on both sides. I don’t even know why it was green, because usually in Vancouver/Burnaby green light for pedestrians can be activated only by pressing separate button by pedestrian. But in Richmond sometimes it does work like in old times, as I understand.

    In any case – did I have a right to block crosswalk in this situation with no pedestrians around? Or I had to wait green light and turn right on my green?

    Thank you!

    • What you did was fine. You only have 2 options here: Wait until your light goes green, or do what you did and move forward after yielding to any pedestrians who might be there, and stop if avoiding conflict with traffic; which is okay. You can’t turn if you can’t see it’s safe, and you can’t turn if there’s traffic coming, so sometimes, although it is not perfectly ideal, you may have to stop on the crosswalk area. This is OK as long as you have yielded to any people who were walking on the crosswalk, which it sounds like there weren’t any.

      I wrote something about this here:


    • Oh, and remember it is illegal to reverse on a crosswalk. So if you moved forward and then after a while more pedestrians are coming, Do not go backwards. Try to get the pedestrians to walk behind your vehicle rather than in front as this may be safer for them.

  2. What’s the right procedure to take a right turn on a red light or stop sign?
    I make a full stop behind the line and then I was told I should shoulder check right, then scan the intersection (left, center, right, left again) and turn, now, doing the whole left, center, right, left again takes me some seconds and I lose my gap, do they mind when I’m scanning left, center, right (to do shoulder check right?)

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