Making a U-turn sometimes is necessary while driving, particularly if you've missed a previous turn or determined that you are heading the wrong way. U-turn laws can be complicated; they also vary among cities, counties and states. In general, making a U-turn is legal if it is considered safe--unless nearby signs note otherwise. You'll need to make some quick decisions to determine if a U-turn is safe and legal.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Check your mirrors for traffic behind you, then signal and move over to the far-left lane if there is more than one lane in the direction you're driving.
Look for signs that deem it illegal to make a U-turn. Such signs are recognisable by a "U"-shaped arrow with a cross or "X" through it. If you see such a sign, it is illegal to make a U-turn in that area.
Check for oncoming traffic. In general, you should not make a U-turn if oncoming cars are less than 200 feet away.
Make sure you have a green light or arrow, if applicable. Never make a U-turn at a red light or yellow light--that could lead to a collision with another vehicle. Many intersections have signs that either allow or forbid U-turns.
Never make a U-turn on a one-way street. Traffic flow must be permitted in both directions to allow a U-turn.
Make sure you have enough room to make a U-turn. You don't want to have to stop, back up, and turn again during the procedure.
Keep your eyes moving, and watch out for pedestrians and other vehicles in all directions until you complete your U-turn and drive away safely.
Tips and warnings
- Never make a U-turn below a hill, on a steep incline or in any other situation in which you cannot monitor oncoming traffic. This is dangerous and usually is illegal, depending on the local traffic laws.
- Never make a U-turn at a railroad crossing. This could lead to a serious collision.
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