How to Make a U-Turn in a Car

Written by leonardo r. grabkowski
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How to Make a U-Turn in a Car
Check for nearby signs before making a U-turn. (u turn image by Jens Hilberger from

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

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  1. 1

    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.

  2. 2

    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.

  3. 3

    Check for oncoming traffic. In general, you should not make a U-turn if oncoming cars are less than 200 feet away.

  4. 4

    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.

  5. 5

    Never make a U-turn on a one-way street. Traffic flow must be permitted in both directions to allow a U-turn.

  6. 6

    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.

  7. 7

    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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