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Ask an Officer: Can I Turn Right on Red at Waples Mill & Oakton?

Officer Wayne Twombly answers questions from readers

Have a question you've always wanted to ask someone in law enforcement? Officer Wayne Twombly of the Fair Oaks Police District, which encompasses Oakton, will answer your question through our Ask an Officer feature. Readers submit questions and Officer Twombly responds. Send questions to Nicole.Trifone@patch.com or submit them in the comments section below.

Here is this week's question:

When driving SE on Waples Mill Road, there is a stop light at the Oakton Road intersection. Is it legal is make a right turn on red at that three-way intersection? There is no sign prohibiting it, yet I never see any motorists turning right on red. 

If there isn't a sign prohibiting a right turn on red, you can make a right turn on red. Clarification (1:19 p.m.): But there is no right turn from that direction. Treat it as going straight to stay on Waples Mill Road.

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CR August 24, 2012 at 03:34 PM
There IS no right turn at that intersection when travelling southeast on Waples Mill. You can either turn left on Oakton Road or proceed straight on Waples Mill. Of course you cannot go straight through a red light. And if you meant to say travelling northwest on Waples Mill, there IS a sign prohibiting right turn on red onto Oakton Road.
George Trowbridge August 24, 2012 at 03:35 PM
About the Waples Mill Road/Oakton Road intersection. Waples Mill Road used to go straight through and Oakton Road entered from the left without a traffic light. The roads formed a "Y" but going through on Waples Mill was not a right turn. It was a through street. After the light went in, I have continued to treat the Waples Mill "fork" as a through street, not a right turn. The officer's answer seems to assume that the Waples Mill "fork" has become a right turn rather than a thru street. Is his answer still the same with this knowledge:
Mama C August 24, 2012 at 04:20 PM
I agree - and think the issue could be solved if they just put a sign there as well. I recently had the green light to turn from Oakton onto Waples headed to Rt 50, and someone turned right in front of me (with obviously a red light on their side).
Nicole Trifone (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Thanks for your comments! I've sent them along to Officer Twombly. I'll let you know when I hear back from him.
Mama C August 24, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Why not ask for a sign to clarify that this is NOT a right turn on red situation since cars are really travelling straight through on Waples Mill (and not making a turn)?
Nicole Trifone (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Officer Twombly has offered a clarification for this intersection: It is NOT a right turn. Treat it as if you're going straight to stay on Waples Mill Road. I will add this clarification to the article.
bill August 25, 2012 at 10:49 AM
There are many places in Virginia where you have to make a right-hand turn to continue on the same road. Not far from there, Stuart Mill Road makes a full 90 degree right turn where it meets Birdfoot with 3 stop signs. The street sign there use to say it was the intersection of Stuart Mill Road and Stuart Mill Road. Who or what decides whether its a turn or not? Is it that, if the road name doesn't change, by law its not a turn, regardless of how sharp the turn is at the light?
John Farrell August 25, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Officer Twombly I travel through that intersection several times each day. There are signs on northbound Oakton and northbound Waples Mill prohibiting right turns on red. There is no such sign prohibiting a right turn on southbound Waples Mill. And it is a right turn of about 60 degrees or more. Traveling onto Oakton Avenue from southbound Waples Mill requires a turn of less than 30 degrees. It is the route closest to straight and is shown as such on Google Maps. Google Satellite confirms that description. It makes sense that VDOT has not prohibited a right on red for southbound Waples Mill as the sight distance fromthe stopline is more than enough to observe opposing traffic and yield to them as required when making a right on red. Every time I've asked a County or State Police officer when they've been in the area, it's their view that a right turn on red is allowed from southbound Waples. We miss you at South Lakes, Officer Twombly.
joanna walker August 25, 2012 at 02:16 PM
I e-mailed VDOT about this several months ago. Their reply was that if there was no sign forbidding the turn, then it was OK.
Robert F. Dorr August 25, 2012 at 09:25 PM
This discussion is testimony to an information age in which anybody can write anything and more people than ever can chime in and most can be wrong. No matter how many people have an opinion to offer, in the direction described there is no right turn at that intersection. You can go straight and stay on Waples Mill or you can turn left on Oakton Road. It's not a matter of opinion. It's not a topic for debate. But in today's world, anything goes. And by the way, hats off to the Fairfax County Police for the great work they do.
CR August 27, 2012 at 04:06 PM
As clarified above, VDOT has not prohibited a right on red because there is no right turn there (unless you want to go off-roading). Your choice is left or straight.
CR August 27, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Once again, the response you were given from VDOT was a generic response for all intersections. As point in fact, there IS NO RIGHT TURN at the specific intersection in question. Your options are to either turn left on Oakton Road or continue straight on Waples Mill Road.
bill September 01, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Who or what decides whether its a turn or not? Is it that, if the road name doesn't change, by law its not a turn, regardless of how sharp the turn is at the light? It seems that the degree doesn't matter because at this intersection its almost straight to go onto Oakton, but it IS being called a left turn. Its about 60 degrees to go right on Waples Mill but it is NOT being called a turn. So again I ask again, who or what decides whether its a turn or not? Is it that, if the road name doesn't change, by law its not a turn, regardless of how sharp the turn is at the light?
Jenn September 21, 2012 at 02:19 AM
well.. theres a sign saying that you are going straight onto waples mill road.. its yellow. and has an arrow so I guess that sign says so
Jenn September 21, 2012 at 02:21 AM
I love that this has been cleared up its a total pet peeve of mine when i see people run that light thinking its a right turn. I saw that there is now a camera? is that for this issue?
Mary Kay Claus October 30, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Please ask if the police if they can post a "No turn on red" sign. So many people treat it this way and I've seen many near-miss accidents. It is a safety concern for those of us that use the road regularly. Either that, or post an officer at the intersection. S/he will make millions in fines!

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