By Chief Steven J. Wojnar Dudley Police
“Right turns on red” at traffic signals have been the topic of recent questions. There have been some cities considering banning these turns at all traffic signaled intersections. By state law, these turns are allowed, unless there is a sign prohibiting it. The person wondered how a driver, who happens to travel in a community who may enact this ban, will know if these turns are allowed?
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 89 Section 8 is the law allowing a right turn, or a left turn in the case of a one-way street, at a red traffic signal. Two very important provisions must be observed prior to this movement. First, the vehicle must come to a full and complete stop prior to the crosswalk or in the location where stopping is intended at the intersection. An example of this can be the stop line. Second, the driver preparing to turn, must yield the right of way to any vehicles or pedestrians traveling through the intersection as directed by the signals. If a driver feels it is unsafe to turn, they have the obligation to wait until such time as it is safe to do so. Should an accident occur, it will most often be the fault of the person making this turn on red.
In those intersections, where there is a sign prohibiting these turns, there is generally a good reason. At any intersection where signals are in place, studies have been conducted on the traffic conditions in that area. These will include vehicular and pedestrian volume, speeds, and crash data. Often, drivers may not pay attention to traffic or people approaching from multiple directions. Any city or town that prohibits these must receive authorization from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, if such permission is required, and signs, prohibiting the turns, will need to be placed at ALL locations. This way the signs are posted lawfully, and all drivers will have sufficient, and standardized, notice on how to proceed.
It is most important to remember traffic signals at busy intersections are in place due to the heavy vehicle and/or pedestrian traffic. When drivers disregard these signals, make prohibited turns, or fail to pay added attention, problems can occur. There are many dangers which can approach from seemingly all directions. The rush to save a few seconds of travel time can result in a crash or injuries.
Our department will once again be collecting Christmas gift donations for local families in need. New and unwrapped toys and clothing can be brought to the Dudley Police Department at 71 West Main Street. Monetary donations as well as gift cards are also accepted. Anything remaining is distributed locally (at places such as Webster / Dudley Food Share) for families on our two towns. Checks should be made payable to the “Dudley Police Association” with a special note for the Holiday Drive. Officers Keith Remillard and Luis Pacheco are leading this year’s drive and they can be contacted at the station if people have questions or require more information. Their efforts are greatly appreciated. There are definite needs in our area for these items and our Department thanks everyone in advance for their continued generosity.