You're probably thinking that we've always been able to turn right on red here in Illinois and throughout the rest of the United States. That's because unless you're of a certain age, you have always been allowed to turn right on red, even heavily encouraged to do so.

It wasn't always like that. Up until the oil embargo/oil crisis of the early 1970s, there were only a few states (and those states were way out west) that allowed drivers to make that right turn on a red light.

The embargo/crisis prompted the federal government to push states into changing their laws to allow right turns on red. Something about saving gas by continuing to drive instead of idling your engine at a stop light. The feds even threatened to withhold highway funding from states that wouldn't comply.

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Getty Images

Times Change As You Know, And Now There's A Serious Movement To Go Back To Making Right Turns On Red Illegal Here In Illinois And Across The Rest Of The Nation

If you're wondering why, after doing this for 50 years, we're suddenly being asked to stop turning right on a red light, you're not alone by any means.

The reason can actually be explained in two words: pedestrian deaths.

According to a report from the Associated Press (AP), a study done by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed that nearly 8,000 pedestrians were hit and killed by vehicles in 2022, the highest number in 41 years.

The AP also noted that "The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that the odds a pedestrian would be killed when struck by an automobile turning right were 89% higher when the vehicle was a pickup and 63% higher when it was an SUV, due to larger blind spots and the deadlier force associated with heavier models."

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Getty Images

Some Places Have Already Instituted Bans On Right Turns On Red, And It Looks Like Others Are Going To Follow Their Leads

Washington state considered banning right turns on red last year, but the bill, which specified no right turns on red near schools, day care centers, parks and other zones with heavy foot traffic, or where older adults, children and people with disabilities might need more time to cross streets safely never made it to a vote.

  • Chicago's current administration has a plan to "restrict right turns on red," but has offered no specifics. Los Angeles, Seattle, and Denver are all considering bans, too.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii has banned right turns on red in areas that tend to be dense with tourists.
  • Berkeley, California is considering banning right turns on red at all intersections.
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan has banned turning right on red at 50 intersections in their downtown area.

When change is suggested after doing something for several decades, there are always those who are resistant. CBS News reports that "Jay Beeber, executive director for policy at the National Motorists Association, an advocacy organization for drivers, called it a "fallacy" to assume such blanket bans would make streets safer."

LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in April 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.

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