Red arrow means no turn no matter which lane
Richard Ulrich of Glen Arm had a question about driving rules, so he posed it to Getting There. While this blogger would like to think of himself as an expert on driving rules, it is the Motor Vehicle Administration that is the actual arbiter. So here's Ulrich's question, with the MVA's answer to follow:
I suspect this has probably come up for discussion before, but just in case it hasn't...
Four of us were having a discussion over breakfast the other day. We are all 50+, graduate degrees out the wazoo, 160+ years of licensed driving experience in the state of Maryland. The question was this:
At the intersection of Lombard and Light Streets, the two left-most lanes are turning lanes onto Light St. and each lane has a traffic light signal with left-turn red arrows. The third lane from the left on Lombard St. is marked for both left-turning as well as continuing straight on Lombard. The question: If the two left-turn arrows are red, is a car in that adjacent third lane required to stop in accordance with the red arrows, or is it allowed to proceed without stopping as long as the traffic signal for Lombard St. through traffic is green?
If the car is required to stop, would it then be allowed to make the left turn after stopping, or would the two red arrows trump being able to "turn left after stopping"?
We debated this question without coming to a definitive conclusion.
What struck me personally was that we couldn't decipher the law sitting down and breakfast, whereas a driver must decide how to react almost immediately. A couple of our group have witnessed a variety of responses by drivers at the intersection, and of course, those that stop before making the left turn from that third lane during the left-arrows-red/through-traffic-green condition incur the wrath of drivers behind wishing to continue without stopping.
One-caveat: Being 50+, we couldn't remember if there is any signage posted at the intersection that would provide more direction.
Getting There turned to Buel Young, spokesman for the MVA, for the official ruling. Young came back with the relevant citation from the state traffic code:
Here is the controlling statute...
§21-202. Traffic lights with steady indication
(b) Green indication - Vehicular traffic facing a circular green signal may proceed straight through or, unless a sign at the place prohibits the turn, turn right or left.
(h) Steady red indication - In general.
(2) Vehicular traffic facing a steady red arrow signal:
(i) May not enter the intersection to make the movement indicated by the arrow;
(ii) Unless entering the intersection to make a movement permitted by another signal, shall stop at the near side of the intersection..; and
(iii) . shall remain stopped until a signal permitting the movement is shown.
There you have it. No matter which lane you're in, stay put until you have a green arrow before making a left turn. Of course, the presence of a red arrow didn't keep a jerk who was behind me in Anne Arundel County last year from blasting his horn as I remained stopped and yelling "right turn on red."
You just know he was a person who considered himself an above-average driver.