Chapel Hill’s New “No-Right-Turn-On-Red” Initiative

Photo courtesy of Pat Krupa on Unsplash.com

The town council of Chapel Hill voted earlier this month to ban right-turns-on-red in 17 different local intersections.

According to a report by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) in 2018, North Carolina had the 12th highest increase in pedestrian fatalities since the year prior, and the seventh most pedestrian fatalities total in the same time period.

Pam Hemminger, mayor of Chapel Hill, emphasized her prioritization for pedestrian and cyclist safety across the town as opposed to vehicles.

The ordinance, approved in a 7-1 vote at the beginning of October, is set to go into effect on October 31. Though the ordinance is mandated to go into effect today, Hemminger has stated that it will not be enforceable until the signs are officially up.

Hemminger also assured that the ordinance would not cause a significant increase in travel time for drivers.

“Traffic was only slowed by 30 seconds on average at intersections with no-right-turns-on-red during peak traffic times,” said Hemminger.

The 17 intersections can mainly be found in downtown Chapel Hill on Franklin Street, Columbia Street, and surrounding areas. The town approved changes at these intersections:

  • Caswell Road on the south side of North Estes Drive
  • Franklin Street at the entrance to Eastgate Crossing shopping center
  • Franklin Street at Hillsborough Street
  • Franklin Street at Henderson Street
  • Raleigh Street at Cameron Avenue and at Country Club Road
  • South Road at Country Club Road
  • Westbound on South Road to Columbia Street
  • Columbia Street at Rosemary Street
  • Columbia Street at Franklin Street
  • Columbia Street at Cameron Avenue
  • Columbia Street at Pittsboro Street
  • Rosemary Street at Hillsborough Street
  • Rosemary Street at Henderson Street
  • Rosemary Street at Church Street
  • Manning Drive at Ridge Road
  • Manning Drive at Paul Hardin Drive
  • Raleigh Road (N.C. 54) at Hamilton Road

With North Carolina’s pedestrian fatality statistics being higher than they should based on population per state (seventh-highest pedestrian fatality rate, ninth-highest state population), there is hope that this ordinance, as well as similar traffic safety regulations, will decrease the vehicular danger that pedestrians face in Chapel Hill daily.

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Ike Bryant is a senior at Carrboro and this is his third year on the Jagwire staff. Besides being co-Editor-in-Chief of the paper, he likes to spend time watching his abysmal Miami Dolphins and playing in some epic spikeball showdowns on the weekends.