Florida Statute requires full stop at red light

Can you have someone explain the law on making right turns on red? I always believed you had to come to a complete stop before making a turn. A couple of recent cases have come up that have me confused. One is the red-light camera case in St. Petersburg where a ticket was overturned and the other was an explanation I received regarding making a legal right turn when there is an illuminated box with a right arrow inside a red circle with a slash. What is the law in these situations?

Joe Wareham

Here's what the current Florida Statute regarding traffic control signal devices says:

"Vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until a green indication is shown; however:

The driver of a vehicle which is stopped at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or, if none then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering the intersection in obedience to a steady red signal may make a right turn, but shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and other traffic proceeding as directed by the signal at the intersection, except that municipal and county authorities may prohibit any such right turn against a steady red signal at any intersection, which prohibition shall be effective when a sign giving notice thereof is erected in a location visible to traffic approaching the intersection."

The Doc's interpretation of this statute, based on the words "a vehicle which is stopped at a clearly marked stop line" is that a full stop is required before making a right turn on a red traffic signal.

The square sign that is posted atop traffic signals depicting a right-turn arrow with a slash mark across it can make things a tad confusing. The last part of the statute that's quoted is key here: "except that municipal and county authorities may prohibit any such right turn against a steady red signal at any intersection, which prohibition shall be effective when a sign giving notice thereof is erected in a location visible to traffic approaching the intersection." This means that right turns on red signals are not permitted when the right-turn with the slash sign is illuminated — this is in effect a county or municipal authority exercising the right to prohibit such turns, which is why the special "no right turn on red" signs are installed at certain intersections.

One such signal exists at the south end of Duhme Road in Seminole where the road intersects with Bay Pines Boulevard/and the Tom Stuart Causeway. The sign prohibiting right turns on red is illuminated at certain times of day to enhance safety there because of its proximity to Madeira Beach Fundamental.

The 2012 Florida Statutes are available online at flsenate.gov/ statutes. Select Title XXIII, which covers all motor vehicle laws.

Can you tell me is being what is being constructed parallel to the Courtney Campbell? This looks like a single lane bridge connecting Clearwater and Tampa for walkers and bikers. There is also a lot of road widening on the approach on both sides of the bay. What is it?

Steve Fay

The activity is the building of a pedestrian bridge alongside the causeway; the work is being done in conjunction with resurfacing of the roadway. The Hillsborough County side is expected to be completed late this summer and the Pinellas side will be finished in 2014. Once completed, the pedestrian bridge will feature shaded areas along the route and more parking on both sides of the bridge. Federal funds are covering the cost of the bridge, which will be used by walkers, joggers, and cyclists.

Email Dr. Delay at docdelay@gmail.com to share your traffic concerns.

Florida Statute requires full stop at red light 04/06/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 5, 2013 2:23pm]

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