Quebec will soon permit rights on red

by Carroll McCormick

MONTREAL, Que. – Following a 12-month pilot project and an absence of death and mayhem, Quebec has decided it will allow right turns on red lights beginning on Apr. 13, 2003.

In general, they will be permitted everywhere in Quebec, but the City of Montreal, now encompassing the whole of Montreal Island since the forced amalgamations, is expected to exercise its right to forbid rights on reds everywhere on the island.

Rights on reds will also be forbidden at any other intersection where Transports Quebec or municipal authorities decide that the intersection’s geometry; for example, those with more than four roads entering them or where visibility is poor, or where there are an unusually large number of children, elderly or handicapped people, could make rights on reds risky.

Some intersections may forbid rights on reds at certain times of day or in certain lanes.

Next March signs forbidding rights on reds – expect them in one out of five intersections – will be installed directly beside horizontal traffic lights or directly underneath vertical traffic lights. Motorists can also expect to see signs at all of the entrances to the Island of Montreal forbidding rights on reds.

Elsewhere in North America it is understood that rights on reds are made without mowing down pedestrians or the wheelchair-bound, or pulling out in front of through traffic, but in Quebec the relationship among motorists and with pedestrians is a bit more, um, dynamic.

To make sure that everyone is sensitized to this new rule of the road, Transports Quebec will be leading a massive awareness campaign among all road users to spell out everyone’s rights and obligations.

Vehicles must come to a complete stop before turning. They must give the right of way to through vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.

Vehicles may not turn right while the white pedestrian symbol is lit or when the orange hand is flashing. Those who do not obey these rules will be subject to fines up to $200, plus demerit points. Motorists can also expect intense police activity to monitor compliance.

The rights-on-reds plan has some groups howling from anticipated injuries, but in the 499 intersections in the 26 municipalities that took part in the pilot project, there were only 60 accidents, including just 21 minor injuries and 39 involving material damage.

Half of the injuries were to cyclists, who, like pedestrians, tend not to respect the rules of the road.

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