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Right of Way: U-Turn Versus Right Turn-who Has The Right-Of-Way?

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On both major and minor roads across the country, arguments between drivers trying to make a U-turn on a green light and those making a right turn on a red light are constantly going on. This right of way u-turn VS right-turn argument has led to a lot of drivers getting physical with each other, with the police having to intervene and help determine who is at fault.

In case you are having trouble determining when you have a right of way when trying to make a U-turn, then keep reading. Here we'll discuss the rules and regulations surrounding these two maneuvers as well as help you understand who has the right of way in each situation.

What Is A U-turn

A U-turn is a maneuver in which a driver turns their vehicle around 180 degrees, typically in the middle of a road or highway, in order to head in the opposite direction.

U-turns are typically only permitted when a driver is on a divided highway or a road with multiple lanes going in the same direction.

When U-turns Are Legal Or Illegal

When U-turns are legal or illegal can vary depending on the location and the specific circumstances. In general, U-turns are considered legal if:

  • There are no posted signs indicating that U-turns are not allowed
  • The driver can make the turn safely, taking into account traffic, visibility, and other conditions
  • The U-turn will not impede the flow of traffic

However, U-turns are typically illegal in certain situations, such as:

  • When there are posted signs indicating that U-turns are not allowed
  • When made on a busy street or highway where visibility is limited and the maneuver could be dangerous
  • When made at an intersection controlled by traffic signals or stop signs
  • When made at a railroad crossing, bridge, or tunnel
  • When the driver's view is obstructed and they can't see approaching vehicles.
U-Turn Right of Way Laws

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the driver making a U-turn must yield the right of way to:

  • Oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists
  • Vehicles that are already in the intersection
  • Vehicles that have a green light or a green arrow

It is also important to obey traffic signals and signs, such as stop signs or yield signs, when making a U-turn. In some states, there are specific laws regarding U-turns, for example:

  • In California, U-turns are prohibited when there is a sign prohibiting them or when making the turn would be dangerous.
  • In New York, U-turns are prohibited at intersections controlled by traffic signals, at intersections controlled by stop signs, and from the right portion of the lane
What Is A Right Turn

A right turn is a maneuver in which a driver turns their vehicle to the right, typically at an intersection or a driveway, in order to head in a different direction. This maneuver is usually performed when a driver wants to change direction and proceed to a new street or roadway that is on the right side of the vehicle. In general, the driver making a right turn is typically required to yield the right of way to pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vehicles that have the right of way, such as those with a green light or green arrow.

Right Turn on Red vs. U-Turn on Red – Who has the Right of Way?

In a real-life scenario, if a driver making a right turn on red and a driver making a U-turn on red are both at an intersection controlled by a traffic signal and both are facing a red light, the driver making the right turn would have to wait for their turn to make the turn and should yield to the driver making the U-turn. The driver making a right turn on red is expected to stop and yield to pedestrians and vehicles and would have the right of way.

If there is no traffic signal or sign regulating the U-turn, the driver making a U-turn must yield to any oncoming traffic and pedestrians, but still has the right-of-way over the driver making the right turn.

Right Turn on Red vs. U-Turn on Green – Who has the Right of Way?

If a driver making a right turn on red and a driver making a U-turn on the green are both at an intersection controlled by a traffic signal, the driver making a U-turn on the green would have the right of way. The traffic signal is an indicator of who has the right of way and must be obeyed. When the traffic signal is green, the driver making a U-turn can proceed with the turn, as long as they yield to any pedestrians crossing the intersection or oncoming traffic. The driver making a U-turn must also make sure that there is no oncoming traffic that could impede their U-turn, and that the intersection is clear before proceeding.

The driver making a right turn on red, who has stopped and yielded to pedestrians and vehicles, must wait for the traffic signal to turn green before making the turn. The driver should also check for oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and other vehicles before proceeding with the turn.

The Consequences of Not Following the Right-of-Way Law

Not following the right-of-way laws can have severe consequences, including collisions, injuries, and even death. A driver who causes a collision while failing to yield the right of way may be held liable for any resulting damages and injuries. The driver who causes the accident may be charged with a criminal offense such as reckless driving or vehicular manslaughter. Disobeying the right of way can also increase the fines, traffic citations, and points on a driver's license which can in turn lead to increased insurance rates and in some cases, suspension or revocation of a driver's license.

Additionally, disobeying right-of-way laws can also lead to a chain reaction of traffic accidents, endangering other people's life and safety. This may cause severe injuries and even death to other road users. Therefore, it's important to follow traffic laws and pay attention to the right of way to avoid collisions as well as ensure the safety of yourself and other road users. It's also crucial to be aware of the surroundings, anticipate the actions of other drivers, and be prepared to yield or take evasive action as needed.

It's important to note that every jurisdiction may have different traffic laws, so it is always best to check with local authorities for specific regulations, and obey traffic signals, signs and markings in order to ensure the safety of yourself and other road users.




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