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driving concerns

A red traffic light in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany on Feb. 4, 2021.ARMANDO BABANI/AFP/Getty Images

Is it legal to make a right turn on a red light from the second turning-only lane? – Alan, Orillia, Ont.

If there’s more than one turning lane, you’re in the right to turn right on a red – as long as there’s no sign banning it.

Like any right turn on a red light, you have to stop first and make sure it’s safe.

The Highway Traffic Act (HTA) permits making a right turn on a red light at most intersections with traffic signals, Mike Fenn, a senior issues advisor with Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO), said in an email. However, subsection 144 (19) of the HTA requires that the driver wishing to turn right on a red light must first come to a complete stop and yield the right of way.

Cities can decide to ban turns at intersections. So, before you turn right on a red in that second turning lane, make sure there aren’t any signs banning it.

There are a few more rules. You can only turn right in that second or third lane if it’s marked as a designated turning lane. If it’s a normal lane, you can’t use it to turn.

Plus, while you’re turning, you have to finish your turn in the lane where you started it. So, if you’re turning from the right-most lane, you have to turn into the right-most lane.

If you turn in the wrong lane in Ontario, it’s an $85 fine and two demerits.

While rules of the road vary by province, most allow right turns on a red if there’s more than one turning lane.

One notable exception? In Montreal, you can’t turn right on a red at all – from any lane.

One way, or another

Can you ever turn left on a red light? I thought you could turn left if you’re turning onto a one-way. – Brad, Oshawa, Ont.

Normally, you can’t turn left on a red light – but there are exceptions for one-ways in most provinces.

Ontario, for instance, allows left turns at a red light from a one-way street onto another one-way, unless there’s a sign banning it.

If you turn left from a one-way onto a two-way street at a red light, then you’re running a red light and would face a $260 fine and three demerit points.

The rules are similar in most other provinces. Alberta, for instance, also allows left turns on a red light from a one-way onto another.

British Columbia is the only province that also lets you turn left on a red from a two-way street onto a one-way street.

But, no provinces allow left turns onto a two-way street.

Left to your own devices?

On roads with more than one dedicated left-turning lane, can I turn left at a green light from those other turning lanes? Or can I only turn if there’s a dedicated left-turn light, like a green arrow or flashing green? – Kim, Toronto

To know whether you can turn left on a normal green light when there are multiple turning lanes, watch out for the sign.

If there’s no sign banning it, then you can turn – as long as nobody is coming toward you and you finish the turn in the same lane, the MTO said.

HTA subsection 141 (7) outlines the rules for making left turns where there are multiple left-turn lanes, Fenn said. It requires that a driver intending to make a left turn approach the intersection in one of the lanes and leave the intersection in the corresponding lane of the intersecting highway.

Have a driving question? Send it to globedrive@globeandmail.com and put ‘Driving Concerns’ in your subject line. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered. Canada’s a big place, so let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.

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