Local News

Left Turn on Red May Get Green Light in Legislature

Posted May 12, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— In almost every state, it is OK to turn left on a red light from a one way street onto another one way street but not in North Carolina. Now there is a move in thelegislatureto give that maneuver a green light.

Lawmakers want to pave the way for thistraffic option, but opponents say it could be a problem for pedestrians, especially blind pedestrians, who would not expect someone to make the turn.

"Traffic is really important to a blind person crossing a street," said John DeLuca.

Traffic signals that people can hear let the visually impaired know when to step off a sidewalk at a busy intersection and when not to.

"That traffic signal helps you [know] not only where to go but when to go," said DeLuca.

DeLuca knows what he is talking about. He heads astate agency for the blindand says a left turn on red is another layer of peril for blind people trying to get around.

"Many cars are getting quieter, environmental noises and the rogue driver push the legal envelope, so to speak," said DeLuca.

Like most North Carolinians, Matt Curran knows the law and understands the concerns of the blind, but he wishes he had the best of both worlds.

"In certain circumstances, I would like to go left on red, but for the sake of the blind people, it's important to take their [needs into] consideration as well," said Curran.

Lawmakers believe the measure would cut down on pollution and traffic congestion, and according toRepresentative Bob Hensley, motorists are already turning left on red.

"A few days ago, in a four day period, I witnessed 18 people turning left on red in one county alone," said Hensley.

In years past, at this stage in the game this proposal is usually dead for a lack of support.

This is the first time it has made it this far in the process, but that does not mean that it will make it all the way.

The other states that do not allow left turns on red are Washington, Vermont, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.