Yes, Boise Drivers: You Really Can Turn Left on Red
When it comes to Idaho drivers, we don’t have the best reputation. In fact, as a state, we have been named home to the rudest drivers in the country.
Insurify Insights publishes an annual list of the “States With the Rudest Drivers” and when 2022’s list came out in March, Idaho found itself in the #1 spot. While putting together their list, Insurify took a look at which states had the highest percentage of violations for certain driving behaviors that they considered “rude.” These included failure to yield, failure to stop, improper backing, passing where prohibited, tailgating, street racing and hit-and-runs.
After the rankings came out, everyone wanted to point fingers. Idahoans say it’s the Californians' fault. California transplants say Idahoans are to blame. Social media discussions seemed to deteriorate into people thinking “everyone is a bad driver, except for me.”
If you think these arguments don’t exist, just visit the “Boise - Bad Driver Spotted” group on Facebook. Things can get heated in there. In fact, there was a post where someone asked an honest question and the comment section blew up with nearly 150 savage responses. The question was about turning left on red. Can you do it in Idaho?
Idaho’s Unique Left on Red Rule
The short answer is yes, you can turn left on red in Idaho. Most people in the “Bad Driver” group knew that so why did the comment section get so out of control? People wanted to argue over WHERE you could do it. There were two teams:
- Team A: You can turn left on red onto a one-way street from any other street
- Team B: You can turn left on red onto a one-way street only from another one-way street.
After a lot of name-calling and finger-pointing, which team knew the correct rule of the road? You have to take a look at the long answer to settle the debate. The long answer can be found in Title 49 of the Idaho Statutes. Title 49 covers everything motor vehicles in the state. There’s a section that reads:
“Except when a sign is in place prohibiting a turn, a driver after stopping, facing a steady circular red signal, may turn right, or turn left from a highway onto a one-way highway after stopping.
So, Team A was right! Being able to turn left on red from a two-way street is something fairly unique to Idaho. Only four other states (Michigan, Washington, Oregon and Alaska) allow it!
Inconsistencies in Drivers Manual to Blame for Confusion
If you could’ve sworn that you could only turn left on red from a one-way to a one-way, don’t feel too bad. If you had to take the written test for your Idaho Driver’s license in 2018, it actually read that way in the 2018 Idaho Driver’s Manual.
Ada County Highway District’s “Road Wizard” got a question about the inconsistency between the manual and state law in December 2018. ACHD responded by saying “The Idaho Driver's Manual isn't the final word on driving laws - Idaho statutes are the authority.” The statute didn’t place any restriction on the street the driver was turning from, so it could be one-way or two-way. The “Wizard” said the Boise Police Department agrees.
So to recap, YES you can turn left on red onto a one-way street in Boise and other parts of the state if there is no sign telling you that you can’t. Just remember this rule only applies to a steady, circular red light NOT a red arrow.
If you didn’t know that, hopefully, you learned something new today! It may help you cut a few minutes off your commute!