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Operation Safe Roads: Is it legal to make a U-turn on a red light?

Posted: 6:00 PM, Sep 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-17 22:08:02-04
Red light

MESA — An ABC15 viewer in Mesa called the ABC15 Operation Safe Roads hotline saying, she has seen many near accidents across the valley because of drivers choosing to make a U-turn while the light is red.

She has seen it so much that she wondered is it actually allowed or are people just so used to breaking the law?

"It is kind of a tense topic because people don't understand it thoroughly," said Sgt. Ben Hoster with the Scottsdale Police Department.

But, law enforcement said - technically you can make a U-turn on a red light.

"If you can do it before you enter the intersection and make that complete U-turn before entering the intersection, it is allowable," Sgt. Hoster explained.

He explains that you have to understand, in Arizona - an intersection does not start at the crosswalk.

"What defines an intersection is the prolongation of the lateral curb line," Sgt. Hoster said. "So, what that is - it's basically an imaginary line that runs from curb line sidewalk line to the other sidewalk line, basically making a square in the intersection."

That means, if you can make a U-turn on a red light without crossing over that imaginary line - it is legal.

"Basically, if you're driving a car - you have to kind of estimate how far that car extends from your steering wheel forward," Sgt. Hoster said. "And if you're unsure, don't make the turn."

Sgt. Hoster also said, it is safer to wait for the green light or skip the U-turn all together.

Do you have a question for Operation Safe Roads? You can contact us through our hotline at 833-AZROADS or you can email us at roads@abc15.com.