Left-turn-on-red bill speeds on into Senate STATE HOUSE REPORT

February 03, 1993|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Staff Writer

Over the objections of Baltimore lawmakers worried about the safety of pedestrians, the House of Delegates approved legislation yesterday that would legalize "left turn on red" at some Maryland intersections.

Approved 90-44 -- with 24 of the nay votes cast by city delegates -- the measure now goes to the Senate.

The bill would permit a left turn at a red light only at the intersection of two one-way streets and only if there were no sign prohibiting the turn.

Vehicles would have to come to a complete stop first.

Backers of the measure said that more than 40 states currently have similar laws.

The Maryland measure was sponsored by Del. Peter G. Callas, a Democrat from Hagerstown.

If approved by the General Assembly and signed by the governor, the measure would go into effect Jan. 1, 1994.

Opponents, such as Del. Clarence Davis, a Baltimore Democrat, said children or old people attempting to cross city streets would be endangered by quickly turning cars and trucks.

Mr. Davis and others claimed that many motorists now fail to come to a complete stop before turning right on red.

"You might as well say 'straight-ahead on red,' " complained Del. Elijah E. Cummings, another Baltimore Democrat.

Critics also predicted the measure could result in higher auto insurance rates for those who live in urban areas.

Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr., the Prince George's County Democrat who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said the measure had been endorsed by a number of highway safety groups, including the American Automobile Association.

"To me, that's like the Good Housekeeping seal," Mr. Vallario said. "They're very safety-conscious."

Mr. Callas even suggested that the proposed law would help move traffic along, which could help with the state's air-pollution problems.

Besides, he said, "this makes for happy motorists."

In the Senate, the bill will be referred to the Judicial Proceedings Committee, where Chairman Walter M. Baker said yesterday that he thinks it will be approved.

"I've often wondered why we don't have left on red under those circumstances," the Cecil County Democrat said. "It's no worse than right on red."

Right turn on red has been permitted at most Maryland intersections since 1976.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.