Do you think California U-turn laws are confusing? You are not alone. U-turns are a major source of confusion for many drivers, even those that consider themselves good drivers. Here we have dissected, examined and simplified California U-turn laws to help you avoid the dreaded illegal U-turn ticket for good.
The most common questions we at Traffic101.com are asked about U-turns in our California traffic school include:
- “How do I know if I can make a U-turn? Do I just look for the No U-Turn signs?”
- “Can I cross a double yellow line to make a U-turn?”
- “Can I make a U-turn in the middle of the block?”
1. NEVER MAKE A U-TURN IN A BUSINESS DISTRICT
Because of the high number of pedestrians and other vehicles, business districts are U-turn No-Zones! (Areas with churches, apartments, multiple dwelling houses, clubs, and public buildings (except schools) are also considered to be business districts.)
The only time a U-turn is legal in a business district is at an intersection or at an appropriate opening provided specifically for turns (Example B). A two-way left turn lane, which has a solid line on the outside and a broken line on the inside (Example A), is NOT a place where you can make a U-turn in a business district.
Example A – Courtesy CA DMV Handbook
Example B - Courtesy CA DMV Handbook
2. U-TURNS IN RESIDENTIAL DISTRICTS ARE ALMOST ALWAYS LEGAL
There are fewer restrictions on U-turns in residential districts – As long as you have an unobstructed view of at least 200 feet in both directions; you may make a U-Turn almost anywhere. You MAY use a center left turn lane and you MAY cross a double yellow line.
3. REMEMBER THE UNIVERSAL U-TURN NO-NOS
These seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many people forget these basic rules. They apply no matter where you are.
- Never make a U-turn on a railroad crossing
- Never make a U-turn in front of a fire station or its driveway
- Never make a U-turn where you cannot see clearly 200 feet in each direction because of a curve, hill, rain, fog, or any other reason.
- Never make a U-turn where a no U-turn sign is posted
- Always remember to signal at least 100 feet in advance to let other drivers know you plan to turn
4. ONLY MAKE A U-TURN IF YOU CAN DO IT SAFELY AND LEGALLY
And last but not least, by law a U-turn must be completely safe for everyone on the road in order to be legal. If you have the slightest doubt about the safety of the U-turn you are about to make, don’t do it. If a police officer patrolling the area has reason to believe your turn was unsafe, he may write you a ticket.
And remember, these tips apply specifically to California laws and may not be appropriate for other states.
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