Idaho Traffic Rule Update: Understanding the Right Turn on Red Rule 2024

A red light. It’s the universal symbol for stopping. But in the state of Idaho, there’s a twist on this familiar rule. Drivers are permitted to turn right on a red light, under certain conditions. This maneuver, known as the right turn on red (RTOR), can improve traffic flow and reduce congestion, but it’s crucial to understand the legalities and safety precautions involved. As of May 2024, there haven’t been any major changes to Idaho’s RTOR law, but a refresher on the rules and best practices is always valuable for drivers in cities like Boise, Coeur d’Alene, Pocatello, and beyond.

Understanding the Right Turn on Red Law in Idaho

  1. What the Law Says

Idaho’s RTOR law follows the guidelines set forth in the Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC). Essentially, drivers are allowed to turn right at a red light after coming to a complete stop and yielding the right of way to all pedestrians in the crosswalk and oncoming traffic. There’s no need to wait for a green arrow specifically permitting right turns.

  1. Exceptions and Restrictions

While RTOR is legal in most situations, there are some important exceptions:

  • Posted Signs: If a red light is accompanied by a “No Turn on Red” sign, drivers must strictly adhere to it and wait for a green light before turning right.
  • Double Red Lights: Some intersections have double red lights. In these cases, turning on red is strictly prohibited.
  • Yielding Right of Way: The core principle of RTOR is yielding the right of way. Drivers must ensure there’s no oncoming traffic, pedestrians, or cyclists crossing the street before making the turn.

Safety Tips for Right Turns on Red

Following the law is essential, but safe driving practices are paramount. Here are some key safety tips for RTOR maneuvers in Idaho:

  • Come to a Complete Stop: This may seem obvious, but it’s crucial to come to a full and complete stop before even considering a right turn. Rolling stops are not acceptable and can lead to accidents.
  • Double Check Oncoming Traffic: Don’t just glance; take a thorough look in both directions to ensure there are no vehicles approaching from the opposite side. Look out for motorcycles, bicycles, and even pedestrians who might be harder to spot in poor visibility conditions.
  • Yield to Pedestrians and Cyclists: Pedestrians and cyclists always have the right of way, regardless of the light signal. Make sure the crosswalk is completely clear before proceeding with the turn.
  • Avoid Distractions: Put down your phone, adjust the radio before stopping, and stay focused on the road while making a right turn on red. Distractions can lead to delayed reactions and increase the risk of accidents.
  • Use Your Turn Signal: Even though you’re not waiting for a green light, it’s good practice to activate your right turn signal well in advance to alert other drivers of your intention.

Benefits and Potential Concerns of RTOR

  1. Benefits

There are several advantages to allowing RTOR maneuvers:

  • Improved Traffic Flow: When drivers can turn right on red after a safe stop, it reduces congestion, especially during low-traffic periods. This can lead to shorter commutes and less frustration on the road.
  • Reduced Emissions: Idling cars at red lights contribute to air pollution. RTOR, when done safely, can minimize idling time and lead to a slight reduction in vehicle emissions.
  1. Potential Concerns

While RTOR offers benefits, some potential concerns exist:

  • Increased Pedestrian-Vehicle Collisions: If drivers don’t yield properly to pedestrians, the risk of accidents can rise. It’s crucial for drivers to exercise extra caution, especially near busy crosswalks.
  • Risky Driver Behavior: Aggressive drivers might make unsafe RTOR maneuvers, disregarding oncoming traffic or pedestrians.

RTOR Law in Other States

Idaho is not alone in allowing RTOR. In fact, most U.S. states permit right turns on red after a complete stop and yielding the right of way. However, there can be variations in the law from state to state. Some states, for example, might have restrictions on RTOR during specific times of day or night.

Here are some examples:

  • California: In California, RTOR is generally allowed, but some cities have banned it in specific areas with high pedestrian traffic.
  • New York: New York follows the standard RTOR procedures, but double red lights are quite common, and turning on red in those situations is strictly prohibited.

Idaho’s RTOR Law: Enforcement and Public Education

  1. Enforcement

Law enforcement officers in Idaho are responsible for monitoring traffic flow and ensuring drivers comply with traffic regulations, including the RTOR law. If a driver is caught making an illegal right turn on red, they could face penalties such as:

  • Traffic citations: Fines for violating RTOR rules can vary depending on the severity of the offense and the driver’s history.
  • Points on License: Traffic violations can lead to points being added to a driver’s license. Accumulating too many points could result in license suspension.
  1. Public Education Initiatives

The Idaho Department of Transportation (IDOT) and other organizations play a crucial role in educating drivers about the RTOR law and safe driving practices. This can involve:

  • Public awareness campaigns: These campaigns might utilize radio announcements, social media posts, or informational brochures to remind drivers about the rules and safety precautions for RTOR maneuvers.
  • Driver’s education programs: Integrating RTOR rules and best practices into driver’s education courses can ensure new drivers understand the law from the very beginning.
  • Website resources: IDOT and other government websites can provide clear and concise information about RTOR regulations and safety tips for drivers.

The Future of RTOR in Idaho

As of May 2024, there haven’t been any major legislative changes to Idaho’s RTOR law. However, the future might hold discussions about potential modifications.

Here are some possibilities:

  • Focus on Pedestrian Safety: With growing urban populations in cities like Boise and Coeur d’Alene, there might be a push for stricter enforcement of pedestrian right-of-way during RTOR maneuvers.
  • Advanced Warning Signs: Implementing additional signage near crosswalks with high pedestrian traffic could further emphasize the need for caution during RTOR turns.
  • Technological Advancements: Emerging technologies like connected vehicle systems could potentially play a role in the future of RTOR. These systems could provide real-time information to drivers about oncoming traffic and pedestrian activity, improving safety at intersections.


Understanding the right turn on red (RTOR) law is essential for safe driving in Idaho. While it can improve traffic flow, safety must always be the top priority. By following the law, practicing safe driving techniques, and staying informed about potential changes, drivers in Idaho can navigate intersections with confidence and contribute to a safer driving environment for everyone.

Additional Tips:

  • Be extra cautious during bad weather conditions: Rain, snow, or fog can impact visibility and reaction times. Adjust your driving accordingly and avoid RTOR maneuvers if unsure about the situation.
  • Enroll in defensive driving courses: These courses can provide valuable skills and knowledge for handling various driving situations, including RTOR maneuvers.
  • Stay updated on traffic laws: Traffic laws can change over time. Regularly check the IDOT website or other official sources for any updates related to the RTOR law.

Remember: Safe driving is a shared responsibility. By following the rules of the road and practicing courtesy, we can all contribute to a safer and more efficient transportation system in Idaho.

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MBS Staff
Articles: 7044

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