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Driving You Crazy: Can I turn right on red when the red arrow at Zuni and 8th Ave is on?

I’ve seen people both run it when it’s red and seen people stop and wait till it’s green.
Zuni at 8th Ave
Posted at 5:05 AM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 09:24:35-04

Des from Denver writes, “What's driving you crazy? On 8th Ave and Zuni where they have a turn arrow for people who are going right off Zuni. I’ve seen people run it when it’s red and seen people stop when it’s red and wait till it’s green. Am I able to turn when it’s red? There is no sign indicating I can’t.”

Right on red is different depending on what light you see. When you see a solid, round red signal — like you see at most intersections — unless otherwise posted, you can make right turns on red. However, Colorado law states that when you see a red turn arrow, you are supposed to stop at that line painted on the street before the signal and wait there while the red arrow is on. You are only supposed to go right when the arrow is green, not when it is red.

I was out there watching traffic for an hour or so. Either most people who make that turn from southbound Zuni to westbound 8th Ave. don’t know they should stop at the red arrow or they just don’t care because approximately 95% of the drivers I watched, made the right on the red arrow. All the drivers would stop to watch for westbound traffic on 8th Ave. to clear before going. But more often than not, they would go right when the red arrow was on.

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I asked Denver police about that right turn.

Jay Casillas with DPD told me, if someone is pulled over for running that red arrow light, “The charge would be disobedience to a traffic control device, red arrow. This would be a 4-point violation and a fine that could go as high as $999.”

I looked at Denver police crash data over the past five years at that intersection. I was surprised to find that there were 74 crashes at that intersection. I was expecting that number to be much lower.

I asked Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure about why they created this prohibitive red arrow. Cyndi Karvaski with DOTI told me, “We’ve placed the red arrow at 8th and Zuni to prohibit the right turn on red. The prohibitive red is there to improve safety for our more vulnerable roadway users, reducing conflicts between people in cars and those accessing the Platte River Trail on foot and by bike. Drivers should wait until the light turns green before turning.”

Bottom line: red arrow, just like a red light, means stop and wait for green.

Can I turn right on red when the red arrow at Zuni and 8th Ave is on?

Denver7 Traffic Expert Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 25 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his award winning Driving You Crazy podcast on any podcast app including iTunes, iHeartRadio, Spotify and Podbean.