This practice is common in North America
. It is also terribly confusing. and unsettles many travellers from the rest of the world.
The practice is not uniform: some places let you turn right on a red light
, while other places make it expressly forbidden.
The rule: unless there is a sign to the contrary, you can turn right at a red traffic light throughout the USA
except for New York City
and the Province of Québec
. In NYC you also see some intersections that explicitly permit turns on red (this being an exception to the city-wide no-turn-on-red rule). In any case, you must come to a complete stop and check that the road is clear before making a right turn on a red light
For reference, the practice was introduced as a gasoline saving measure in the 1970s.