Get traffic moving - turn left on red

If elected in 2018, a State Liberal Government will expand the number of intersections where motorists can turn left at a red traffic light.

The Problem

Better transport options mean better connected South Australians, communities and businesses.

Productivity and liveability are improved when our transport infrastructure allows us to get to work quickly and travel to our recreation destinations in a trouble free manner.

In the last 15 years traffic on many South Australian roads has been reduced to a crawl during peak times and sometimes gridlock in the city and surrounds. The average speeds on some routes have decreased by 15 kph under Labor’s watch with inadequate transport planning and unreliable public transport provision.

A massive road maintenance backlog and poorly managed roadwork control have added to these longer travel times and frustration for South Australian road users. And for the first time the number of registered cars is equal to the state’s total population as more people respond to Labor’s failure to provide viable and efficient public transport alternatives by opting to drive themselves.

Often at peak traffic times, but also at times of low traffic volume, cars will be halted unnecessarily at a red light, wishing to turn left when the intersection is clear and it is safe to do so. This can be frustrating for motorists, but more crucially, can needlessly impede traffic flow.

After trials at five intersections in 2013-14 and with strong support from commuters and locals, Brisbane City Council introduced Left Turn on Red facilities across Brisbane - these are now active at 49 signed locations.

Most of the USA and Canada have used turn right on red after stopping (driving in North America of course being on the right hand side of the road) since the 1970s, from a desire to relieve traffic congestion at clear intersections but also and importantly, to reduce driver’s fuel costs and pollution emissions. Turning right on red in the USA and Canada is generally permitted unless signposted otherwise.

The State Liberals Plan

If elected in 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will expand the number of intersections where motorists can turn left at a red traffic light.

At appropriate intersections and when safe to do so, this is a practical and low cost way of decreasing individual travel times, easing
congestion and reducing greenhouse gasses.

The Australian Road Rules currently already allow for a left turn at a red traffic light (but not at a red traffic arrow) - where there is a “Left Turn on Red Permitted After Stopping” sign.

If there is such a sign, you can turn left before the traffic lights change to green - but only after stopping at the stop line and making sure it is safe to do so and giving way to all other vehicles and pedestrians.

However there are currently just 6 of these signposted intersections in South Australia.

A Marshall Liberal Government will ensure regular audits of intersections by the Department of Transport Planning and Infrastructure (DPTI) to identify suitable and appropriate intersections to expand turn left on red signage.

These will all be assessed for safety against Australian Standard requirements and considered for intersections where the road speed is 60 kph or lower.

An education campaign to make motorists, cyclists and pedestrians more aware of the expanded use of this rule will be an integral part of the program.

Tackling the problem of road congestion and keeping traffic flowing is a major economic and community challenge and an imperative for our State. Part of this process involves making the most of our existing road networks and infrastructure.

You can download the full policy document here