“California Stop” May Get the Green Light

Q: Do you have to make a complete stop before turning right on red?

You would think not if you were to watch the cars at any busy intersection in California, but yes—drivers are required by law to make a full stop… and yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing… before turning right on a red light, pursuant to California Vehicle Code 21458- 21468. Unfortunately, there are so many offenders who roll through turns without fully stopping that the practice is commonly called a “California Stop”.

Drivers intending on rolling through the right turn without stopping have their eyes and heads turned to the left to see if a vehicle with the right of way is approaching. Often, they fail to notice or yield to pedestrians who may be crossing in the intersection, resulting in pedestrian accidents.

Pedestrian accidents due to “California Stops” have been a big problem in California. Over 700 pedestrians were killed in 2014 with more than half of those resulting from right on red accidents. Pedestrians injured topped 2,000 with the figure being conservative due to the likelihood of injuries being under-reported.

The good news is that legislation, known as S.B. 986, addressing the issue of these “California Stops” has been proposed by Senator Jerry Hill. The bad news for pedestrians is that it’s not a crackdown on the existing law’s full stop requirement, but rather an amendment to it that would permit rolling stops when turning right on red. Who would want this?

Many California residents enjoy an active, outdoor lifestyle and take advantage of the climate to walk, bike, run, and skate. This increases the number of pedestrians along the roadways and sidewalks. Permitting rolling stops will likely worsen the pedestrian accident problem by removing what may well be the only possible deterrent for rolling through which currently exists—the red light camera ticket.

Not surprisingly, support for this proposed change in the law came from the objections of many motorists receiving red light camera tickets for turning right on red without making the full stop. These tickets are difficult to contest due to the video evidence and are costly if received. The proposed legislation would not only lessen the fines for these tickets, but would replace the “full stop” requirement with the mandate to simply “use caution” when turning right on red. Those opposed to this proposed amendment may wish to contact their legislators.

If you’ve been injured, or a loved one has been killed or injured in any accident as a result of the negligent, reckless, or intentional acts of another, call the J&Y Law Firm today at 888-806-6722 for a free evaluation of your case or contact us here. We represent clients in Northern and Southern California.