Intersections and Turns
Note: Practice quizzes are available only for those sections of the manual covering rules of the road (Chapters 4 through 11 and Road Signs).
Most traffic crashes occur at intersections when a driver is making a turn. Many occur in large parking lots that are open to public use, such as at shopping centers. To avoid such crashes, you must understand the right-of-way rules and how to make proper turns.
Traffic signs, signals, and pavement markings do not always resolve traffic conflicts. A green light, for example, does not resolve the conflict between a car turning left at an intersection while an oncoming car is going straight through. The right-of-way rules help resolve these kinds of conflicts. They tell drivers who goes first and who must wait in different situations.
You must yield the right-of-way to fire, ambulance, police and other authorized emergency vehicles when they are responding to emergencies. They will display flashing red, or red and white, lights and sound a siren or air-horn. When you hear or see an emergency vehicle approaching your vehicle from any direction, including on your side of an expressway or limited access highway, safely pull over immediately to the right edge of the road and stop. Wait until the emergency vehicle passes before driving on. If you are in an intersection, drive out of it before you pull over.
You must pull over and stop for an emergency vehicle even if it is coming toward you in the opposite lane of a two-way roadway.
If you hear a siren or air-horn nearby but do not know exactly where the emergency vehicle is, you should pull over and stop until you are sure it is not approaching you. An emergency vehicle using lights and a siren or air-horn may be unpredictable. The driver may legally exceed the speed limit, pass red lights and STOP or YIELD signs, go the wrong way on one-way streets and turn in directions not normally allowed. Although emergency vehicle drivers are required to exercise due care, be very cautious when an emergency vehicle approaches.
Personal vehicles driven by volunteer fire fighters responding to alarms are allowed to display blue lights, and those driven by volunteer ambulance or rescue squad members may display green lights. Amber lights on hazard vehicles such as snow plows and tow trucks warn other drivers of possible dangers. Flashing amber lights are also used on rural mail delivery vehicles and school buses to warn approaching traffic of their presence. The vehicles displaying blue, green, or amber lights are not authorized emergency vehicles. Their drivers must obey all traffic laws. While you are not required to yield the right-of-way, you should yield as a courtesy if you can do so safely.
Always signal before you make a turn or change lanes. It is important that other highway users know your intentions. The law requires you to signal a turn or lane change with your directional lights or hand signals at least 100 feet (30 m) ahead. A good safety tip is to, whenever possible, signal your intention to turn before you actually begin braking to make the turn. The required hand signals are shown.
The following illustrations show the proper position of your vehicle for turns. These positions are based on requirements in the law, not just good advice.
As you prepare to turn, stay as far to the right as possible. Avoid making wide, sweeping turns. Unless signs direct you otherwise, turn into the right lane of the road you enter.
LEFT TURN FROM ONE-WAY ROAD INTO ONE-WAY ROAD:
Prepare to turn by getting into the left lane, or the left side of a single lane, as close as possible to the left curb or edge of the road. If the road you enter has two lanes, you must turn into its left lane.
LEFT TURN FROM ONE-WAY ROAD INTO TWO-WAY ROAD:
Approach the turn in the left lane or from the left side of a single lane. As you cross the intersection, enter the two-way road to the right of its center line, but as close as possible to the center line. Be alert for traffic, especially motorcycles, approaching from the road to the left. Oncoming motorcycles are difficult to see, and it is difficult to judge their speed and distance away.
LEFT TURN FROM TWO-WAY ROAD INTO TWO-WAY ROAD:
Approach the turn with your left wheels as close as possible to the center line. Try to use the left side of the intersection to help ensure that you do not interfere with opposing traffic turning left. Stay to the right of the center line of the road you enter, but as close as possible to the center line. Be alert for traffic, especially motorcycles, approaching from the left and from the oncoming lane you are about to cross. Oncoming motorcycles are difficult to see, and it is difficult to judge their speed and distance away. Drivers often fail to see an oncoming motorcycle and collide with it while making a turn across a traffic lane.
LEFT TURN FROM TWO-WAY ROAD INTO ONE-WAY ROAD:
Approach the turn with your left wheels as close as possible to the center line. Make the turn before reaching the center of the intersection, and turn into the left lane of the road you enter.
LEFT TURN FROM TWO-WAY ROAD INTO FOUR-LANE HIGHWAY:
Approach the turn with your left wheels as close as possible to the center line. Enter the left lane, to the right of the center line. When traffic permits, you may move out of the left lane.
A "U-turn" is any turn "executed so as to proceed in the opposite direction." Do not attempt a U-turn on a highway unless absolutely necessary. If you must turn around, use a parking lot, driveway or other area, and, if possible, re-enter the roadway going forward, not backing up.
You may make a U-turn only from the left portion of the lane closest to the centerline of the roadway, never from the right lane. Unless signs tell you otherwise, you may make a U-turn when you are given the go-ahead by a green arrow left-turn traffic signal, provided it is not prohibited and you yield to other traffic.
You may not make a U-turn near the crest of a hill, a curve or any other place where other drivers cannot see your vehicle from 500 feet (150 m) away in either direction. U-turns are also illegal in business districts of New York City and where NO U-TURN signs are posted. You may never make a U-turn on a limited access expressway, even if paths connect your side of the expressway with the other side.
Unless prohibited, a three-point turn may be used to turn around on a narrow, two-way street. You may be required to make one of these turns on your road test.
Before going on to Chapter 6, make sure you can answer these questions: