Turning right at a green traffic light is another one of those important skills that learner and new drivers must practice to get really good at. Let’s break this down and discuss some of the most common sources of confusion for new drivers and all drivers.
Jump to a section:
- Who Has the Right-of-Way?
- Do You Have to Stop at a Green Light When Turning Right?
- Can You Turn Right on a Green Light Without an Arrow?
- Know Who You Are Yielding To
- Pay Attention To Your Vehicle Positioning
- Watch For Pedestrians
- More on Pedestrians
- The Oncoming Left-Turning Vehicle(s)
- Dealing With Multiple Lanes
- Which Lane Should You Turn Into?
- When The Light Turns Yellow
- Right Turn On Green Light with Yield Sign
- You May Need to Yield to a Left-Turning Vehicle
- Turning Left After Right at Yield Sign
- Spotted: Baby on Board (totally random)
Who Has The Right Of Way When Making a Right Turn On Green?
Wondering who has the right-of-way when turning right on a green light? Nobody really ‘has the right-of-way.’ Rather, certain road users should yield to others. But in theory, and generally speaking here:
- Pedestrians may proceed across the crosswalk
- Right-turning vehicles must yield to pedestrians and cyclists
- Left-turning vehicles must yield to pedestrians, cyclists, and right-turning vehicles
Do You Have To Stop At a Green Light When Turning Right?
No, please don’t stop at a green light when you’re turning right, unless you’re yielding to pedestrians and/or cyclists. If there are left-turning vehicles in the intersection, they are supposed to be yielding to you. If there are no pedestrians and/or cyclists to yield to, then slow to around 20 km/hr, shoulder check, and simply turn.
Can You Turn Right On a Green Light Without An Arrow?
Yes, you can. If you’re facing a green light, the green light means ‘go, just yield to pedestrians and/or cyclists that are going the same direction as you.’ Arrows are an optional traffic control device that are used for some intersections, but not all.
Know Who You Are Yielding To
Do you have to yield when turning right on green?
In theory, when you are turning right on a green light, the only other road users you normally need to yield to are pedestrians and cyclists.
Of course, you may need to yield to someone or something else – such as a left-turning vehicle, if it has already turned and is subsequently in your way.
Drivers who are turning left are supposed to yield to drivers who are turning right in this situation. But of course, in the real world, things may be different.
That’s why it’s safer to think, “that car is supposed to yield,” rather than, “I have the right of way.”
If they don’t yield, then you don’t have the right of way. If no one gave me birthday-cake flavoured Timbits for my birthday, then I don’t have them. Oh maybe that’s a little different. But anyway, you can read more about the right-of-way rules here.
Pay Attention To Your Vehicle Positioning
Whenever possible, try to move your vehicle closer to the curb before the right turn so that vehicles behind you can fit by in case you do stop for pedestrians.
Before you move over, use a right-mirror check and a right shoulder check to ensure there are no bikes or anything else that you would be potentially in conflict with in your blind spot.
If there are no pedestrians and any left-turning vehicle is clearly yielding, then simply turn.
Watch For Pedestrians
If you see pedestrians, move forward into the intersection a bit in order to line up your vehicle with where you are about to turn
In other words, do not wait behind the stopping line as you would if your light were red. You do want to pull forward as long as there’s no other right turning vehicle in front of you. There are two reasons for this.
- It clearly tells the driver of any left-turning car that you are seriously getting ready to turn right, and you are merely waiting for the pedestrians
- If you wait behind the white stopping line, the driver may think that you want him/her to go first, because it looks like you’re leaving an insanely large amount of space in front of you for no reason
Keep in mind, there should be no pedestrians walking on the perpendicular crosswalk; so it’s fine to block it; in fact you kind of have no choice in most cases.
The other reason has to do with the traffic light.
If you move forward into the intersection, wait for slow or many pedestrians, and then the light goes yellow, then you’re still allowed – and you should – exit the intersection after the pedestrians, but before any left-turning vehicle.
Again, that’s how it’s supposed to go in theory, which is nice. Sometimes, the left-turning vehicle may try to go first and you do need to keep an eye on that. If they don’t yield to you, simply let them go first and then turn after them. Life doesn’t always go as we plan.
More Details On Pedestrians
Give the pedestrians some extra time before you turn. When can I turn after waiting for pedestrians?
You don’t have to necessarily wait until they’ve walked completely across the entire crosswalk.
In certain intersections, that might mean waiting for them to walk past multiple lanes, which may seem silly.
Usually you should wait until they’re at least past the yellow line if they’re walking away from you, or until they actually step onto the sidewalk if they’re walking toward you.
Do another quick shoulder check before you turn to make sure there are no more pedestrians about to walk.
That Oncoming Left-Turning Vehicle
Do keep an eye on the left-turning vehicle.
The driver doing a left turn is supposed to be yielding to you. However, this doesn’t mean that they will.
If it turns when it shouldn’t, then simply let it go. Let it go, like, literally, but also if you’re the type who holds a grudge; it’s just not good for you! Let it go first and go after it. Simple. We are staying alive here, not proving a point about right and wrong.
Dealing With Multiple Lanes
If there are two lanes, then avoid turning at the exact same time as the left-turning vehicle.
Try to time it so you turn before it or after it, but not simultaneously.
Which Lane Should You Turn Into?
Legally when you turn right, you’re required to turn into the right lane; and the driver of any left-turning vehicle is required to turn into the left lane.
However, if after you turn there are no vehicles in the other lane, you can quickly change your turn signal to a left signal and make sure it is safe and do a lane change into the left lane fairly quickly.
This is perfectly legal as long as:
- You are not crossing a solid white line and
- It is safe (duh)
- Your left-turn signal is flashing
When The Light Turns Yellow
*By the way, if you’re approaching the intersection for the right turn and the traffic light goes yellow, you are legally required to stop your automobile behind the white line and yield to others, unless it is not safe to stop. See Right Turns on Red Lights for more info.
Right Turn On Green Light With Yield Sign
The green light just happens to be there. It can give you clues.
Use the green light to tell you where the traffic might be coming from, who you may need to yield to. Turn on your right signal, as this is a still a right turn.
If The Light Is Green, You May Need To Yield To A Left-Turning Vehicle
Turning Left After Turning Right At The Yield Sign?
Spotted: Baby On Board (Literally)
I know, it’s random isn’t it? It’s funny the things you see when you drive around a lot.
Turning right on a green light is another necessary skill for all drivers to have. It’s generally a much safer option when compared to turning left at a traffic light. This is because right turns merely turn across a pedestrian and cyclist path, whereas left turns turn across that, as well as oncoming traffic. And the thing about the oncoming traffic is, it’s dangerous, it’s unpredictable, and people are often speeding.
Sometimes left turns can not be avoided, but sometimes they can by turning right 3 times and driving in a circle (I mean square).
Practicing your right turns at many different intersections gives you the best experience. Always remember to do one and possibly 2 shoulder checks for these and other right turns, depending on if you’re changing the positioning of your vehicle and/or stopping before your right turn. This is, of course, to check your blind spot. Read more about right turns without stop signs.