DC lawmakers vote to end right turns at red lights; making ‘Idaho Stop’ legal

D.C. Council passed the No Turn on Red bill unanimously Tuesday afternoon.

FOX 5 spoke to D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh who proposed the bill. 

She admits there is no concrete data or research that was conducted to prove it’ll make streets safer, however, New York City just did the same so the nation’s capital plans to look at their numbers and use them as a model.

The D.C. Council wants to largely prohibit making right turns at red lights calling the practice a safety hazard and saying it increases the likelihood of crashes. Legislation from Cheh says allowing right turns on red puts "road users at heightened risk of injury or death."

Another policy change in the bill would make a practice commonly called the "Idaho Stop" legal for bike, e-bike, scooter and other personal mobility device riders.

The "Idaho Stop" would allow riders to treat red lights as stop signs and treat stop signs as yield signs.

"Allowing cyclists and other riders to maintain momentum and move more quickly through an intersection, while getting out ahead of traffic, reduces their exposure to traffic, making their ride more predictable and safer," the legislation states.

The legislation notes that 40 people, 20 who were on foot or bike, were killed in traffic crashes in the District in 2021.

The District Department of Transportation recently lowered the speed limit on major roads in D.C. from 30 miles per hour to 25 in an effort to decrease crashes and create safer roads.

The District Department of Transportation will be investigating hundreds of intersections to identify which ones will need to obey the new rule. There will be a two-year implementation period where they will educate the public and get proper signage.

DDOT director Everett Lott issued the following statement to FOX 5: 

"DDOT maintains its position and current practice that right-turns-on-red should be prohibited, broadly, but allowed only where analysis and engineering support it being safe and beneficial. At DDOT, we want to use the tools in our toolbox to tailor safety enhancements to the needs of specific intersections. Such a ban would preclude the agency’s ability to enhance intersections based on their unique needs and could unintentionally compromise intersections where it may not be what is best for safety.  No Turn on Red (NTOR) is one of the many tools DDOT deploys to improve safety, along with leading pedestrian intervals, daylighting and curb extensions at intersections to improve visibility, and signal timing and street design changes that remove the conflicts between people driving and people walking, rolling, or biking."

The council will hold a legislative meeting on Oct. 4 to make the bill official.