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Quebec shifts right-on-red rules

QUEBEC CITY, Que. - Quebec is finally taking a first, cautious step toward joining the rest of the continent in allowing right turns on red lights.As of Jan. 15, drivers will be allowed to make right ...


QUEBEC CITY, Que. – Quebec is finally taking a first, cautious step toward joining the rest of the continent in allowing right turns on red lights.

As of Jan. 15, drivers will be allowed to make right turns on red lights in 26 municipalities. This pilot project will last a full year, after which the results of the experiment will be reviewed and a decision made to either expand or discontinue the program.

The participating municipalities are grouped into five zones. On the highways coming into the zones, signs will announce that right turns on red lights are permitted. On highways leading out of these zones, signs will warn drivers that right turns on red are now forbidden.

Right turns on red will be permitted at most, but not all, intersections inside the zones. Where Transports Quebec has determined that significant numbers of children, older people or handicapped citizens cross the street, visibility is insufficient, or the intersection is otherwise not suitable, signs will be posted forbidding the manoeuvre.

Eventhough this pilot project might sound like a yawner-good for traffic flow, but no big deal-drivers should take care.

For example, those used to pulling this manoeuvre without a second thought outside of Quebec, or those with a taste for the classic Quebec “stop american,” where drivers drift through stop signs, had better beware: Transports Quebec expects drivers to come to a complete and full stop before turning right.

Drivers must yield the right of way to transport trucks, cyclists and pedestrians, and pay particular attention to the aged, infirm, young or otherwise less able to take care of themselves in the middle of a crosswalk.

Drivers who do not take special care turning right can expect a fine ranging from $100 to $200. The same fine applies for pulling a right on red outside of the zones.

Keeping in mind the panicked warnings of death and mayhem that have followed any previous suggestion that Quebec should adopt this right-on-red policy, expect police to be extra-vigilant and humorless around these intersections.

Transports Quebec will be tallying the accidents and watching closely to see how well motorists handle their new freedom.

Driving styles vary across the province, but Chicoutimi, with its “take no prisoners approach” to driving, could be the wild card in this experiment. “Chicoutimi is the most dangerous place in the world,” says one driver who lived there and wished to remain anonymous. She laughed, “They’ve been turning right on reds for years!” n


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