Red arrows and circles allow you to turn at intersections

I drive in our valley a lot being in real estate. Many clients question our law allowing left turns against a red light when going onto a one-way street. One of my clients brought up an interesting question when I turned against a red "arrow" light from McAndrews Avenue onto Court Street after checking oncoming traffic and making sure it was safe. He asked, "Is this law true for red lights and red arrows?" Now I am confused. What is the law, and are red arrow red lights the same as regular red lights?

— Patty D., Medford

You know, Patty, we were pretty confident on this one — after all, some of us just graduated from traffic school. But to make sure, we checked with Medford Police Lt. Mike Budreau, and together we're here to spell out your rights to make a left.

Budreau pointed us to Oregon Revised Statutes 811.360, which addresses when a vehicle is permitted to turn at a stop light:

"The driver of a vehicle subject to this section, who is intending to turn at an intersection where there is a traffic control device showing a steady circular red signal, a steady red bicycle signal or a steady red arrow signal may do any of the following ... .:

(a) Make a right turn into a two-way street.

(b) Make a right or left in the direction of traffic upon a one-way street."

That's a bit to unpack, but Budreau put it more simply for us.

"You can turn on both the red arrow and the regular red circle," he said.

Of course, it goes without saying (but we're going to say it anyway) that anyone turning on a red light or a red arrow must first come to a full stop and is responsible for ensuring there is no oncoming traffic.

See, we did pay attention in traffic school!

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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