There’s a move afoot in D.C. to prohibit right turns on red at many intersections, in the name of safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Frederick Kunkle explains, however, that studies from 1995 and 2002 suggest that allowing right turns at red lights does not increase fatalities.
He also goes into a bit of history of which I was wholly unaware:
Congress passed the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which pushed states to allow right on red turns as a condition of receiving federal funds. Its aim was to reduce delays, auto emissions and fuel consumption. The law also said the maneuver should be allowed only to the extent that conditions allowed it to be done safely, which generally ruled out intersections near schools or with heavy pedestrian traffic, poor sight lines or other hazardous configurations. By 1980, all 50 states and the District permitted the maneuver.