Left on red to a one-way is OK

This week, two questions on a related topic:

About once a week I travel west on McAndrews Road to Court Street in Medford and turn left, heading downtown. I believe you've made it perfectly clear that a left turn against the red light is legal there if the traffic is such that it can be made (into the closest lane) without causing undue alarm to Court Street traffic.

But I have another question: Can one turn left against the red left turn light if through traffic on McAndrews has a green light but that traffic has cleared enough to allow it? Or, is eastbound McAndrews traffic considered too hidden by the curve to make that a safe maneuver?

I would also like to offer a comment: I've noticed that some left-turn lights around town have been changed from red to flashing yellow. Where visibility is unimpeded and there aren't other extenuating circumstances, I think that makes a lot of sense. It certainly moves traffic along more quickly. I would like to see much more use of that feature.

— H.A.

I'm wondering about turning left on a red light onto a one way street from a two-way road. Specifically, I'm referring to the intersection of Riverside and McAndrews heading east on McAndrews and turning left (north) onto Riverside by the Rogue Valley Mall.

When in the turn lane there I notice that plenty of people will turn left against the red light when traffic coming the opposite (westbound) direction is not in the way. This would be turning left onto Riverside (a one-way, northbound street with four lanes) against a red light. Is this legal? I saw a Medford police officer do it the other day, so I assumed again it was OK, but I know that cops will take liberties with their driving that the general public may be cited for.

Anyway, I tend to turn left on a red onto Riverside, when the Riverside traffic has a red light and there is no oncoming traffic going west on McAndrews — unless I see a cop because I don't want to get a ticket. Can you tell me what is legal in this instance?

— Chris

Both of you have similar questions on intersections just a few blocks apart. It's a common question about these intersections. The short answer is you can make a right-hand turn onto a two-way street against the red light (either red arrow or red globe, it doesn't matter) or you can make a right or left turn onto a one-way street against the red light.

The prevailing factor is that you're turning onto a one-way street, not that you're turning from a two-way street. So in both these intersections the left-hand turn is permitted on the red light.

Remember that you must still come to a complete stop first, yield to any cars that have the right of way, yield to pedestrians and don't make the turn if there is a sign that specifically prohibits the turn.

To H.A.: The curve is not too obscured to see, go ahead and make the turn. To Chris: you're legal, quit worrying about the ticket and make the turn.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a weekly Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or e-mail cochradc@jacksoncounty.org.

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