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The Washington State Legislature is considering a bill to put a statewide restriction on right turns at red lights. The bill would make it illegal for drivers to turn right after stopping at a red light within 1,000 feet of specific buildings that include schools, libraries, hospitals, parks or public playgrounds. The one size fits all idea has Chelan County Commissioner Kevin Overbay concerned, saying it's a state response on something that needs to be done on a local level. Overbay represents Chelan County in the Washington State Association of Counties, which has formally stated they are against the right turn bill.

The bill is being considered to reduce crashes and close calls between cars and pedestrians or cyclists. Currently, right turns at red lights are allowed in Washington State after the driver makes a complete stop and the road is clear of oncoming traffic. That includes pedestrians in the adjacent crosswalk. The right hand turn bill is sponsored by Senate Democrat John Lovick, a former State Patrol Trooper, who is also sponsor of the DUI bill currently being considered by the Legislature. Overbay called the statewide mandate unnecessary and an overreach by the legislature as well as expensive to produce and install additional signage. No one, including any member of the Washington State Association of Counties, testified against the measure during a Senate committee hearing.

The bill would ban right turns at red lights within 1,000 feet of the following.

  • elementary or secondary school;

  • child care center;

  • public park or playground;

  • recreation center or facility;

  • library;

  • public transit center;

  • hospital;

  • senior center; and any other facility with high levels of pedestrian traffic determined by the appropriate local jurisdiction or WSDOT.

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