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Less than 1% of S. Korean drivers know how to turn right properly: report

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Feb. 11, 2024 - 16:01

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The promotional image of the National Police Agency on the proper way to make a right turn. (Gyeonggi Research Institute) The promotional image of the National Police Agency on the proper way to make a right turn. (Gyeonggi Research Institute)

Hardly any of the South Korean drivers are fully aware of the details involving the recent legislative change on the proper way to turn right, a study by a government-funded organization showed Tuesday.

The Gyeonggi Research Institute said they recently published a study on how well the residents of the greater Seoul area are aware of the 2022 revision of the Road Traffic Act. This revision specified that a vehicle must come to a full stop when making a right turn at the intersection at a red light, even if there is no pedestrian in the crosswalk.

The GRI study implied that the overwhelming majority of the country's drivers are unaware of such details, as only one of the 400 drivers tested by researchers knew all the details related to how to turn right properly, despite 40.3 percent claiming to know how to do so. About 75.3 percent said they have been subject to protests -- honking or turning on one's high beams -- by drivers behind them, despite abiding by the law and stopping at the intersection.

About 78.3 percent of the drivers said they themselves had gotten frustrated when a driver in front of them stopped in a situation they thought did not require stopping.

Overall, the law revision has been causing stress for 58.8 percent of drivers, with 67.5 percent saying that they have broken the related law when there were no pedestrians.

South Korean allows right turns on red, but previously, there hadn't been any legal clause on whether cars should fully stop before turning. Prior to the revision, the law had stated that a car could turn right at an intersection if it does not obstruct other vehicles progressing in accordance with the traffic light.

The law revision specifies that all cars must come to a full stop before a crossing on red, in addition to not obstructing the flow of traffic. In cases in which the intersection has a separate right turn signal, the car cannot turn right in any case if the right turn signal is on red.

Another case in which drivers must come to a full stop is when the light is green, but there is a pedestrian either in the crosswalk or about to walk into it. When there is no pedestrian in the crosswalk, the vehicle is not required to stop.

Contrary to a common beliefs, the car does not have to abide by any pedestrian traffic signals and only has to follow those for cars. The car is mandated to stop in the aforementioned case because, although the pedestrian and car signals allow both parties to go forward, the law stipulates that a pedestrian on the crosswalk has priority over vehicles.