Driving tests Menu

When may you turn right on a red light? When may you turn right on a red light?

  • A. If there's a green arrow to the right or straight ahead with no red arrow

  • B. If there is a marked box for turning right

  • C. If there is no other traffic around

    The correct answer is A
    Correct. You can only proceed when you have a green light

Are you allowed to turn right on a red light?

You can only turn on a red light if you have a green filter (turning) arrow or you are directed to do so by police. A red right turn arrow is a safety feature designed to reduce crashes. A report in 2004 by Land Transport NZ identified right-turn-against crashes as representing 30% of crashes at traffic lights.

Red arrows are useful for holding traffic back while pedestrians cross, or holding traffic back for a short time if there are vehicles coming in the opposite direction, but then revert the intersection back to a filter turn (a give way scenario) - this is called a lag turn as opposed to a lead turn. 

Phasing of red turning lights

The default is a lead right turn, i.e. traffic turning right goes on the phase before traffic going straight ahead. This is safer because traffic passing straight through will build up more speed than turning traffic, and any potential conflict of traffic due to inadvertent red light running will be at a slower speed because turning vehicles will have already slowed to make the turn.

It's best practice to bring a red turn arrow up at the same time as a full red. If traffic is held back by a right turn arrow, the recommended time is 5 seconds if the arrow is to be extinguished to create a filter turn.

When a red arrow protects a pedestrian crossing, the time will be set in accordance with the width of the crossing and the type of users. For example, wider crossings take long to cross, and crossings near rest homes are likely to have more older users that could be slower to cross.