How many times have you been parked at a red light for several minutes before you realize that the stoplight is on a timer and it’s not changing any time soon?

It’s frustrating, right? Why wouldn’t the traffic lights in Western New York be set on a sensor, so those moments when you are driving on non-busy streets are made simpler?

Anyway, my point is that we have all been there, and it’s annoying, because nobody likes waiting for anything in a world dedicated to instant gratification. 

Which is why you may be inclined to turn on red, but should you? Even if it’s against the law?

Of course the answer (on paper) will always be do not break the law, but why is it against the law to make a turn on red? 

Well, it’s not always against the law to turn on red in New York state, but there are times where it is illegal to do so, and you have to be aware of when you are able to and when you are not.

Steady Red

If it is a steady red, you must stop, and do not go until the light is green. If there is a green arrow present at the red light, you may turn toward the arrow but only if the intersection is clear. 

You may make a right turn at a red light after a complete stop and yield the right of way to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. 

You can make a left turn at a steady red light when you make a turn from a one-way road into another one-way road – after you come to a complete stop and yield the right of way to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.


You cannot make a turn at a red light if there is a “NO TURN ON RED” sign, or any other sign, signal, or marking that indicates that making a turn is not allowed. 

New York City

New York City is a little different than the rest of the state, as you probably could have guessed. You are not allowed to turn on a red light in New York City unless a sign that permits it is posted. 

What About A School Bus?

A driver of a school bus containing pupils may not turn right on any red light. 

Red Arrow

Do not turn in the direction of the red arrow until the red arrow light is off and a green arrow light is on. A right turn and a left turn are both prohibited when a traffic light shows a red arrow. 

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