Environment featured

Ban the right turns on red, an open letter to Minister Lloyd Hines, Brad Anguish and Councillor Lorelei Nicoll

Dear Honourable Lloyd Hines, Mr Brad Anguish and Councillor Nicoll,

I’m writing to request that right on red permissions for our urban intersections should be removed, immediately. I am aware that the right is by Provincial law, however Municipal staff have the discretion to remove right on red permissions at any given intersection.

HRM Traffic staff will be aware that a 68 year-old woman has recently died due to being hit by a driver turning right on red at Portland Street.

A further incident occurred last week in Dartmouth where a 67 year-old woman was hit by a driver turning on a red light

Research, traffic authorities (see guidance from the US Federal Highways Authority)  and pedestrians (see video of my own experience at a signalized intersection in Clayton Park, Halifax) are in agreement that when drivers turn right on red, they look to their left to check for oncoming traffic and not to the right to check for pedestrians crossing on a walk sign. It is impossible for pedestrians to anticipate and avoid this breach of law, as the traffic movement is often behind them as they cross.

The Canadian Government’s 2018 report Safety Measures for Pedestrians and Cyclists Around Heavy Vehicles notes Canadian research concluding that incidents involving cyclist and pedestrian trauma increased by up to over 100% at locations where right on red permissions were introduced. 

Right on red is unsafe to combine with crosswalk infrastructure. Neither does the right turn provide anything of service to our transportation aims other than convenience for motorists.

In the absence of any research and guidance that warrants this law to be safe for use when combined with pedestrian and cyclist movements, the permission must be removed in urban areas. Without evidence that it is safe when combined with vulnerable road users, it has no place in our new Traffic Safety Act. 

You will be aware that nine of the ten pedestrian fatalities in HRM since January 2018 have been senior citizens aged over 55. This age group are extremely vulnerable to the many safety deficiencies arising from our unsafe by design crosswalks, also unsafe laws such as right on red.

Pedestrians like 73 year old Dawn Nichols, killed on a dangerous crosswalk on Dunbrack Street earlier this year, deserved the human right of safe traffic laws and infrastructure for vulnerable road users. 

They have no choice but to cross roads like Dunbrack that have a design speed far in excess of that which is safe for an urban street, also use crosswalk infrastructure which is known from local yield tests and long term local incident statistics to result in inadequate safety.

Due to the frequency and severity of injuries and deaths on our crosswalks, please respond to this request within seven days. 

With best wishes

Martyn Williams

If you walk, cycle or use a wheelchair and are affected by road safety issues, please join HRM Safe Streets for Everyone. If your local crosswalk needs a crosswalk flag, please contact the Crosswalk Safety Society. Please remember to report issues affecting your safety to our municipal authorities using the 311 service.

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