Home » Atlanta bans right turns on red at some intersections, officials say move will foster ‘sense of community’

Atlanta bans right turns on red at some intersections, officials say move will foster ‘sense of community’

by John Jefferson
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Atlanta lawmakers have approved a new city ordinance banning right turns at red stoplights in certain neighborhoods.

The Atlanta City Council met Monday and passed the new traffic ordinance in a vote of 10-3, FOX 5 Atlanta reported. 

“We did it! Thank you to my colleagues for adopting my legislation prohibiting turns at red lights in central Atlanta!” Councilman Jason Dozier said. “Pedestrian safety and quality of life go hand in hand, and I’m deeply proud of our work to make our streets safer for our most vulnerable people.”

The ordinance will ban right turns at red lights in Downtown Atlanta, Midtown Atlanta and the Castleberry Hill community. It will take effect at the beginning of 2026 to allow time for the city’s Department of Transportation to put up signage at the affected intersections. 

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Supporters on the city council said the neighborhoods where right on red is now banned are home to cultural attractions, businesses and homes that bring in heavy pedestrian traffic.

Officials argue the measure will make these neighborhoods safer for pedestrians and foster “a sense of community, encourage social interaction, and support local businesses, therefore contributing to the overall quality of life.”

Dozier, who co-sponsored the legislation, previously told Fox News Digital that he proposed the ordinance because Atlanta has seen a significant rise in pedestrian injuries and fatalities due to car collisions.

“We’ve seen a 50% increase in pedestrian deaths since 2020, and 38 pedestrians died on Atlanta’s streets last year as a consequence,” Dozier said in an emailed statement. “When cars are allowed to turn at red lights, they typically creep into crosswalks, with drivers looking only for oncoming cars rather than pedestrians or cyclists. Even worse, vehicle sizes have ballooned over the last 20 years, so even if a driver were looking for a pedestrian, bigger blind spots and narrower sight lines make it difficult to see them. Crosswalks represent some of the very little space that our cities afford pedestrians, and this legislation attempts to protect that space.”

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Atlanta skyline

Propel ATL, an organization that wants to “reclaim Atlanta’s streets” for pedestrians and bicyclists, said many residents support the change. 

“Turning right on red poses significant risks to the most vulnerable…people in wheelchairs, seniors, and people on bikes and scooters,” Propel ATL Executive Director Rebecca Serna said at a January meeting, FOX 5 Atlanta reported.

Opponents of the ban have raised concerns over the more than $100,000 needed to install signs at the impacted red lights and said the project will divert Department of Transportation resources from other more important projects.

However, supporters say that if the red light ban is successful, it can be expanded to other parts of the city, per FOX 5 Atlanta.

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Traffic light denotes red light camera on Long Island

A dramatic rise in accidents killing or injuring pedestrians and bicyclists has pushed several U.S. cities to consider bans on turning right on red. 

The Washington, D.C. City Council in 2023 approved a right on red ban that will take effect in 2025.

New Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s transition plan called for “restricting right turns on red,” but his administration hasn’t provided specifics.

The college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, now prohibits right turns at red lights in the downtown area.

San Francisco leaders recently voted to urge their transportation agency to ban right on red across the city, and other major cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle and Denver have looked into bans as well.

New York City has a longstanding prohibition on right turns at red lights, with large signs notifying drivers that they may not do the commonplace maneuver while in Manhattan.

There is no recent research on how many people nationwide are hurt or killed by right-turning drivers.

Advocates for the bans and critics have pointed to a 1994 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to Congress that analyzed four years of crash data from Indiana, Maryland and Missouri and three years of data from Illinois. The report counted 558 injury crashes and four fatalities caused by right turns on red.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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