Colorado Traffic Rule Update: Understanding the Right Turn on Red Rule in 2024

Traffic lights are a crucial part of keeping our roads safe and organized. They help manage the flow of vehicles and pedestrians, preventing chaos and accidents. One common traffic rule that can sometimes cause confusion is the right-turn-on-red (RTOR) rule. This rule allows drivers to turn right at a red light after coming to a complete stop and ensuring it’s safe to proceed.

For drivers in Colorado, understanding the specifics of the RTOR rule is essential for navigating intersections smoothly and safely. This blog post will provide a comprehensive overview of the RTOR rule in Colorado as of April 2024, including recent updates (if any) and clarifications. We’ll delve into the situations when a right turn on red is permitted, the exceptions to the rule, and safety considerations to keep in mind.

Right-Turn-on-Red Rule in Colorado (as of April 2024)

When it’s Permitted

In Colorado, drivers are generally allowed to turn right on a red light after coming to a complete stop and following specific safety precautions. Here’s a breakdown of the key requirements:

  • Complete Stop Required: This is paramount. You must come to a complete stop before the designated stop line or crosswalk at the intersection. A rolling stop is not considered legal and can result in a ticket.
  • Yielding Right of Way: After stopping completely, you must yield the right of way to all oncoming traffic, including vehicles turning left and those continuing straight through the intersection. Additionally, you must yield to pedestrians who are crossing the street in any direction, even if they don’t have a walk signal.
  • Use of Turn Signal: Activate your right turn signal well in advance, ideally at least 100 feet before the intersection. This helps alert other drivers of your intention to turn, reducing the risk of confusion or accidents.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are situations where a right turn on red is not permitted in Colorado. Here are some key exceptions to be aware of:

  • Posted Signs: Look out for specific signs at intersections that prohibit right turns on red. These signs are usually marked with a red circle and a diagonal red hand with the words “NO TURN ON RED.” Always obey these signs, regardless of the general RTOR rule.
  • Specific Intersection Types: Certain intersections may have designated restrictions on right turns on red due to safety concerns. This could be because of limited visibility, heavy pedestrian traffic, or a complex intersection layout. Be mindful of additional signage or pavement markings that might indicate these restrictions.
  • Unclear Visibility: If your visibility is obstructed at the intersection, such as due to parked cars, rain, or fog, you should not attempt a right turn on red. It’s safer to wait for the light to turn green to ensure a clear path.

Safety Considerations and Best Practices

Even when a right turn on red is permitted, safety should always be your top priority. Here are some additional best practices to follow:

  • Importance of a Complete Stop: As mentioned earlier, a complete stop is crucial. Don’t inch forward or hesitate; come to a full stop and assess the situation before proceeding.
  • Double Checking for Pedestrians and Cyclists: It’s essential to be extra vigilant for pedestrians and cyclists who may be crossing the street, even if they don’t have a walk signal. Look beyond just oncoming traffic and ensure a clear path before turning.
  • Right of Way for Emergency Vehicles: Always yield the right of way to emergency vehicles with flashing lights and sirens, regardless of the traffic signal. Pull over to the side of the road and allow them to pass safely.

Comparison with Neighboring States

Understanding how Colorado’s RTOR rule compares to neighboring states can be helpful for drivers who frequently travel across state lines. Here’s a brief comparison with some surrounding areas:

  • Wyoming: Similar to Colorado, Wyoming allows right turns on red after a complete stop and yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. However, Wyoming doesn’t require drivers to activate a turn signal before turning.
  • Utah: Utah’s RTOR rule is largely consistent with Colorado’s. Drivers must come to a complete stop, yield the right of way, and use a turn signal before turning right on red.
  • New Mexico: New Mexico’s RTOR rule also aligns closely with Colorado’s. However, in New Mexico, some intersections might have specific restrictions on right turns on red during certain times of day, such as school zones during designated hours.
  • Kansas: As of April 2024, Kansas has a slightly stricter RTOR rule compared to Colorado. In addition to the standard requirements, Kansas drivers must also yield the right of way to any pedestrians and cyclists entering the lane they’re turning into, even if they are not in a crosswalk.

This comparison highlights that most neighboring states have similar RTOR rules, but there can be subtle variations. It’s always recommended to check the specific traffic laws of the state you’re driving in to ensure you’re following the regulations correctly.


Understanding the right-turn-on-red rule in Colorado is essential for safe and efficient driving. By following the guidelines outlined above, you can navigate intersections smoothly while prioritizing safety. Here are some key takeaways:

  • A right turn on red is generally permitted in Colorado after a complete stop, yielding the right of way, and using a turn signal.
  • Always be aware of exceptions, such as posted signs or unclear visibility situations.
  • Safety should be your top priority. Double-check for pedestrians and cyclists, and practice defensive driving techniques.

Staying informed about traffic laws and practicing safe driving habits are crucial for everyone on the road. By following these guidelines, you can contribute to a safer and more efficient traffic flow in Colorado.

Additional Resources

For the latest information on Colorado’s traffic laws, you can refer to the official website of the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or reputable driving safety resources online.


The information provided in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Always refer to official sources for the most up-to-date and accurate traffic laws in Colorado.

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MBS Staff
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