Right and left turns
Have you checked lately on the manner in which you make turns? Do you signal intention to turn properly? Show consideration for pedestrians and other drivers who might be affected. There is a right way to make turns in driving, with safety and without causing annoyance or danger to others. It is done by letting everyone know just when and where you intend to turn—by signaling.
Most states and cities have adopted turn signals laws in conformance with the Uniform Vehicle Code, which lists these rules for turning:
- Get in position. Don't turn unless you can do it with reasonable safety. That means that you must look ahead, decide where you want to turn, and be in a position to turn when you get there. To get into the left lane, check your clearance and signal before changing lanes. This applies to intersections, traffic lanes, private roadways, driveways and passing cars.
- Start the turn signal in advance. Give a continuous turn signal for a distance of at least 100 feet (200 feet on open highways).
- Don't surprise. Slow down gradually but don't stop or decrease speed suddenly without giving an appropriate signal, unless there's an emergency.
- Yield right of way. When you're in the intersection about to make a left turn, you should yield the right of way to any approaching vehicle or pedestrian in the intersection or close enough to be a hazard. Then make your turn into the proper lane.
- Drivers waiting in the intersection for traffic to clear should keep front wheels aimed straight ahead. If wheels are turned to the left, for the expected turn, a bump from the rear could force your car into the patch of oncoming traffic.
In the old days, drivers signaled turns by sticking their arm out the window—straight out for left turn, upward for a right turn, or down for a slowdown or stop. There's no law against still using hand signals, in addition to flashing light turn signals. The hand out the window is not likely to be noticed as readily as the flashing turn signals. Many thoughtless drivers are guilty of “cutting corners” in turning. Don't turn too soon. You must keep to the right of the center line at the cross walk of the street you are leaving. As you complete your left turn and leave the intersection, you should drive to the right of the center line of the roadway you're entering.
When making a left turn, don't swing wide around the center point of the intersection. When possible, the left turn should be made to the left of the intersection center. In making a right turn, give the proper turn signal at the proper time and approach the intersection in the right hand lane, staying as close to the curb as possible. Never turn from a left hand lane unless the traffic lanes are marked for this. Make your turn to end up in the right hand lane of the street you're entering. Don't make wide swing on a right turn unless you are driving a mule drawn wagon. Even if you are driving a semi-trailer rig you should turn with a minimum swing. Otherwise the bad practice of a wide swing places your vehicle in the path of other drivers. When you are turning from the inside lane where two lanes turn right, be careful to stay in your lane. Poor performance on your part could force the fellow on your right up onto the curb. Again, if you are handling a large truck, you have to give plenty of warning to avoid the squeeze play. U turns are prohibited in many areas by city ordinance, and no signs are required to warn drivers. So it usually pays to avoid U-turns whenever possible.
There are three things a driver must always remember to do before turning, changing lanes, or pulling into traffic from a parallel parked position:
- Determine whether it can be done safely. If not safe, don’t do it.
- Give proper signal at the proper time.
- Check your blind spots
Many drivers have sought to use turn signals in ways that are forbidden by law. One “no no” is flashing turn signals as a courtesy or “do pass” signal to following drivers. This practice can encourage following drivers to take undue risks in passing. It is also illegal to flash one turn signal on a parked or disabled car. It is proper, however, to activate your warning flashers to indicate a possible hazard on the road. May all your turns be right ones!
*Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated, the underwriting manager for the Markel affiliated insurance companies.