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The link Turning | Alberta.ca says "when the light is red, if there are no signs prohibiting the turn, you may turn left on a red light from a one way to a one way after you come to a complete stop at the proper stopping location (stop line or crosswalk) and it is safe. This also applies to dual lane turns. Yield to pedestrians crossing to your left." It seems it's saying with dual lane turns, one can also turn left on a red light.

However, in this link Turning lanes | Alberta.ca it says "unless prohibited by a sign, at a dual right turn intersection, you may turn right on a red light after you come to a complete stop at the proper stopping point (stop line or crosswalk)." It doesn't mention turning left on a red light.

So can one turn left or right at a red light with dual lane turns? Thank you!

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  • For what it's worth, Kentucky has a similar law, again involving one-way to a one-way.
    – SCD
    Apr 17, 2023 at 12:30
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    You can only turn both left and right at any intersection if you cut your car (and potentially yourself) in two – and in most cars, you won’t be able to turn left or right once you do that. Apr 17, 2023 at 20:17
  • Thank you for pointing it out (you are funny)! I have corrected it.
    – Maurice
    Apr 18, 2023 at 2:46

2 Answers 2

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The critical consideration is that the permitted left turn must be onto a one-way roadway in that direction. One is not permitted to perform a left turn which involves crossing traffic from the left, which would also imply that it is not a one-way roadway.

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    I can imagine a contrived situation where it's the case: I'm driving north on Main St. (a one-way street) and I come to the intersection with Park Ave. To my left, Park Ave. is one-way westbound. To my right, Park Ave. is a two-way street. Whether or not any intersections like this actually exist in the province of Alberta is left as an exercise for the reader. Apr 17, 2023 at 19:53
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    @MichaelSeifert Intersections of this type are not uncommon in any US city I’ve lived in. They explicitly are not considered one-way roads.
    – doneal24
    Apr 17, 2023 at 21:11
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Intersections have a number of possible paths through them. Where those possible paths cross is called a conflict point.

Canada drives on the right. That means that right turns only do not entail any conflict points, except for a merge into the lane you are joining. This means you only have three things to watch for: pedestrians, moose, and oncoming traffic in that lane. That is the rationale behind allowing "right on red" - given the de minimis number of conflict points involved, the driver workload is reasonable.

As a matter of policy they allow 2 lanes of right on red, but that's not your question.

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A "left on red" isn't going to work as a general rule, because of a much larger number of conflict points, mostly the worst kind, crossing conflict points. Is this too much workload for the driver? Yes - we know that, because that was the whole reason why the intersection was upgraded from stop signs to traffic lights in the first place! So a general left on red is unworkable.

However, one-way streets to the left create a special situation. From a one-way to a leftward one-way has no conflict points except the "merging" one discussed with right turns. As such, "left on red" is allowed there. This is the situation being discussed in your first link. The first link isn't referring to left turns onto two-way streets.

This isn't relevant to this conversation, but from a two-way to a leftward one-way arguably creates this favorable situation again; while there are crossing conflict points, they are only with your own street's traffic which is held by the red light. As such, some jurisdictions allow left turns from a 2-way to a 1-way. Alberta is not one of them, probably due to moose :)

The simplest way to think of this is, "you are allowed to turn into the nearest lane to you, if you don't cross any lanes at all", and in Alberta 2 lanes can do this at once.

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  • Right turn on red, and yes I have heard of the left on red from one way to one way but it is extremely rare in my area, has been the law for decades in many areas. And yet Washington, DC (I'm in Maryland) just changed to outlaw right turn on red to help cut down on pedestrian accidents. Which is a noble cause but since with any turn (and actually, even going straight) cars have to yield to pedestrians, it seems a bit much. But I digress. Great answer - watch out for the moose... Apr 17, 2023 at 15:43
  • @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact: The difference is that when someone is making a right-turn on red, they are looking left, and do see pedestrians in front of their own car. When they're making a right turn on green, they are looking right, and do safely see pedestrians. Apr 17, 2023 at 18:33
  • @MooingDuck yes -- you notice the USDOT's drawing of "conflict points" that I just added, does not show any crossing conflict points for the pedestrian crosswalks. Apr 17, 2023 at 19:25
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica: Your comment implies you missed the point. A right turn has two conflict points: The merge, and the pedestrian crossing. Manassehkatz seemed confused that places were banning right-turn-on-red, but the reason for the ban is that when making a right-turn-on-red, the driver looks away from the pedestrian conflict point, wheras for right-turn-on-green, the driver looks toward all conflict points. Thus right-on-green is far safer than right-on-red, which is why right-on-red is being banned. Apr 17, 2023 at 19:54
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    @mooing I grokked the missing "not" in that comment. I was calling out the myopic, car-centric callousness of USDOT to fail to recognize the existence of that conflict point in their documentation. If it was a freight train, they'd recognize that, because a train is a threat to a car. I felt that needed no further comment. Apr 17, 2023 at 20:33

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