OLYMPIA, Wash. — The proposal to limit when people can turn right on a red light has the full endorsement of Krystal Monteros.
“It would make it a lot safer for me to cross the street,” said Monteros.
Born with spina bifida, Monteros has been in a wheelchair all her life. She lost vision in her right eye in a domestic violence incident.
She said she has had countless close calls in intersections when drivers turning right on red lights don’t see her crossing the street in her wheelchair.
House Bill 5514 would prohibit right turns at red lights in intersections within 1,000 feet of a school, hospital, park, library, or senior center.
”This simple change will make intersection safer for children, seniors and other pedestrians. At a time when traffic violence is at a three-decade high,” said bill sponsor Sen. John Lovick, (D) Snohomish.
According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 745 people died in traffic crashes in 2022, the highest figure since 1990.
Other bills aimed at making roadways safer introduced in Olympia this year would require driver’s education before anyone under the age of 25 can get a license, drivers over the age of 70 would need to take refresher courses on the rules of the road, and speed-detection cameras, that issue citations, would be installed at work zones.
Vicky Clarke, policy director for Washington Bikes, said the right on red restriction law would make intersections safer.
“This absolutely has to be on the table,” said Clarke.
She said 20% of collisions involving bicyclists and pedestrians happens in intersections.
If the law passes, Clarke said she hopes data will show a drop in right-turn collisions, prompting a ban on right turns at all intersections.
“It seems like an overreach,” said Herb Krohn, legislative director for the Smart Transportation Division, representing 2,000 railroad employees.
“We’ve got to keep traffic moving,” said Krohn.
Krohn said he appreciates measures to make roadways safer, but said those decisions should be up to local officials, rather than a state mandate.
Monteros worked with the city of Tacoma to improve the curbs at her nearby intersection, but when it’s dark or rainy, she’s afraid to cross the street.
That might change if the state were to limit, or completely ban right turns on red.
“That would make it a lot easier,” said Monteros.