Is the time up on discretionary right turns?

CarBuyer Team

Right turns where motorists make the call on when to turn right have proven to be fatal; so why are they still around?


In 2022, a Grab driver passed away while making a discretionary right turn after a lorry from the opposite direction collided into his car. In 2019, a woman died after being hit by an Aston Martin that failed to notice her during a discretionary right turn. In 2018, a taxi making a discretionary right turn collided with a speeding car going straight, resulting in a death and three injuries. 

While these are just the instances that made headlines, approximately 430 accidents occur at discretionary right turn junctions every year on average from 2016-2021, according to Minister for Transport S Iswaran. 

Yet despite this, the implementation of red-amber-green (RAG) arrow traffic lights are assessed on a ‘risk-based approach’, according to Png Kong Jin, deputy director of Traffic Scheme Design Development at the Land Transport Authority (LTA). 

This is due to factors like the current volume and flow of traffic, the types of vehicles, pedestrians, and surrounding environment and infrastructure. 

Junctions with medians that are too narrow for an extra RAG light, busy and limited lanes, flow of traffic, and even Silver Zones or school zones for the elderly and young are all factors the LTA has to consider before implementing another RAG traffic light. 

Likening it to a pie, Mr Png notes that giving a bigger slice of time to a junction with an RAG light will affect the following slice, and so on and so forth, eventually changing the overall flow of traffic as it’s synchronised. 

Some however, may argue that drivers ought to be more defensive and cautious at these discretionary right turns, regardless of pressure from vehicles around you to go. 

But the old saying goes that prevention is better than cure, and RAG traffic lights are likely the most viable method of regulating traffic. That would of course lead to a change in traffic flow, but ultimately a smaller price to pay for road safety. 


Singapore traffic

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CarBuyer Team

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