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Motorists to turn right only at green arrows at most junctions in 5 years: LTA

SINGAPORE – The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is doing away with "discretionary" right turns at traffic junctions where feasible and, in five years, most junctions will allow motorists to make right turns only when the green arrow signal appears.

An example of the Red Amber Green arrows at the traffic junction of Commonwealth Avenue West and Clementi Road. It was at this junction that a fatal collision took place between a taxi and a car, which left a 19-year-old undergraduate dead.

An example of the Red Amber Green arrows at the traffic junction of Commonwealth Avenue West and Clementi Road. It was at this junction that a fatal collision took place between a taxi and a car, which left a 19-year-old undergraduate dead.

SINGAPORE – The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is doing away with "discretionary" right turns at traffic junctions where feasible and, in five years, most junctions will allow motorists to make right turns only when the green arrow signal appears.

Responding to media queries on Thursday (April 26), LTA group director of traffic and road operations Chandrasekar said a programme is underway to introduce red-amber-green arrow signals at all 1,600 traffic junctions where it is practical to do so. To date, the system has been installed at 200 traffic junctions.

"Where it is not feasible to implement red-amber-green arrows, LTA will look into other features, such as turning pockets, lighted road studs, integrated pedestrian countdown timers, dashed pedestrian crossing lines and 'Give Way to Pedestrian' signs, to ensure safety and smooth traffic flow," he added.

Mr Chandrasekar's statement came amid a fast-growing petition urging the authorities to do away with "discretionary" right turn in light of two fatal accidents at traffic junctions last week. As of Thursday evening, the petition – which was started four days ago — has garnered over 15,600 signatures.

In Singapore, there are currently junctions where drivers can make discretionary right turns at a time they deem safe when the green light is on. These areas are usually those which have less traffic flow. There are also places that allow discretionary left turns during a red light.

At busier junctions, there are traffic lights that have the red-amber-green arrows, which only allow motorists to make right turns when the green arrow appears.

Transport experts had previously told TODAY that road users cannot be completely reliant on traffic signals in instances when human behaviour is unpredictable, and they have to make the correct call.

Dr Park Byung Joon from the Singapore University of Social Sciences noted that while disallowing discretionary right turns could make the roads safer, it could lead to inefficient traffic management and congestion.

Associate Professor Gopinath Menon from Nanyang Technological University reiterated that drivers "have to exercise proper judgement", and the red-amber-green turning signal cannot be imposed on a "blanket basis" at all junctions.

Concerns over discretionary right turns are not new and have cropped up from time to time. Responding to a reader's letter on the issue — which was published in TODAY in January 2012 — LTA had explained that traffic light junctions generally allow motorists to make a right turn if there is a gap in traffic flow, and this reduces delays and optimises the traffic timing allocated.

It had also noted that traffic lights with a red-amber-green turning arrow signal are selectively put up at junctions where safety is a concern, such as at locations where motorists' view is obstructed, at intersections near road bends or at major intersections where right-turning traffic does not have a good view of oncoming traffic.

The concept of discretionary turns, also known as "turn on red", exists in other countries. However, in Spain and Taiwan, for example, turns are allowed only when a green arrow sign appears.

On Thursday, Mr Chandrasekar said that introducing the red-amber-green arrows is part of LTA's reviews to ensure that the roads are safe for pedestrians and motorists.

He added that since 2015, a total of 21 accident-prone locations have been identified under LTA's Black Spot Programme. "The safety at these locations have been enhanced with a combination of measures like red-amber-green arrows, special signs or road markings," said Mr Chandrasekar.

Although the authorities will continue to enhance road safety, this is "ultimately a shared responsibility", he reiterated. Both motorists and pedestrians "must play their part by always exercising good road safety practices", he said.

Last week, two people were killed after collisions occurred at the intersections of Commonwealth Avenue West and Clementi Road, as well as Upper Bukit Timah Road and Jalan Anak Bukit. In both cases, one of the vehicles involved in each accident made a discretionary right turn.

On April 19, 19-year-old Kathy Ong was killed after the taxi she was travelling in with three fellow National University of Singapore undergraduates collided with a car at the traffic junction at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue West and Clementi Road. The taxi driver has been arrested for causing death by a rash act.

Three days later, a 23-year-old woman was killed after the car she was in collided with a bus at the traffic junction of Jalan Anak Bukit and Jalan Jurong Kechil. The 24-year-old driver of the car has been arrested for causing death by a rash act.

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discretionary right turn LTA accident traffic

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