Chapter 12

The best drivers in the world would be hazards on the roads without boundaries. Put 10 cars on the road without lanes, and chaos would reign supreme. Lanes on the road allow vehicles to share the highway safely. Knowing the laws that surround these lanes will help you become a better driver.

A. U-Turns

B. Right Turns - Collisions commonly occur during right turns where a vehicle turns too wide and collides into an opposing vehicle making a left hand turn into its lane. When you are in this right turn situation, you should complete your turn in the lane that is first accessible or the one furthest to the right. You may always turn right on a red light from a dead stop unless there is a sign prohibiting it, but you must complete the maneuver in the right or slow lane, keeping close to the curb at all times. If traffic is stopped at an intersection and you are several cars back, you may travel along the right curb in order to make a right turn, but only if it is safe to do so. If the space is set aside for parking or there is no pavement, you may not travel along the right. You may travel up to 200 feet in a bicycle lane in order to make a right turn, but you must yield to any bicycles using the lane. If you are in a lane that allows you to proceed with a right turn or straight on the road, and the lane to your right is marked “right turn only,” you, as the driver in the left lane, have the option to turn right on a red light. The driver in the “right turn only” lane, however, must proceed with the right turn after the lines dividing the lane on the left side change from broken to solid. Once the solid bold line appears, changing lanes out of the “right turn only” lane would be illegal, even if no other vehicles are present.

C. Left Turns - Left turns require extra caution as they tend to be dangerous due to conflict with oncoming vehicles traveling at high speeds, changing signals, pedestrians utilizing the crosswalk, and limited visibility due to large vehicles, trucks or other obstructions. You may make a left turn from one street to another on a green light, completing the turn in the first lane accessible (usually lane 1). If a left turn is being made at the same time another vehicle is making a right turn onto the same street, the vehicle making the right turn has the right-of-way. You may make a left turn on a red light from a one-way street to another one-way street, unless otherwise posted. When making a left turn against oncoming traffic, you do not have the right-of-way, unless given the right-of-way by a green arrow, which signifies unobstructed use of the road. No matter the situation, you should still proceed with caution.

1. Two-Way Left Turn Lane - This lane is located in the center of busy streets and painted with solid yellow outside lines and dashed yellow lines on the inside of the lane. You may enter this lane to begin or complete a left turn only. You may proceed in this lane for a limited amount of time, or up to 300 feet. When the two-way left turn lane ends into a regular left turn lane, you may transition from the two-way lane into the regular lane and continue driving for an indefinite length of time.

Examples of right and left turns (The numbers on the cars refer to the numbered sentences below).

1. Left turn from a two-way street.
Start the turn at the left hand edge of the lane closest to the middle of the street. You may complete the turn in either lane of the cross street (as shown by dotted lines) if it is safe to do so. You must use a left turn lane if there is one. A left turn from the next lane may be made if signs or arrows show it is okay.

2. Right turn.
The blue station wagon is shown turning correctly. It began the turn in the lane nearest the right-hand curb. It will end the turn in the lane nearest the right-hand curb. Do not swing wide into another lane of traffic. You may start a right turn from other than the far right lane only where pavement or overhead markings show that using that lane for a right turn is permitted.

3. Left turn from a two-way street into a one-way street.
Start the turn from the far left-hand portion of your side of the road. You may turn into any lane that is safely open, as shown by the dotted lines.

4. Left turn from a one-way street into a two-way street.
Start the turn from the far left-hand portion of your side of the road. The white pickup truck may turn into either of the lanes that are safely open, as shown.

5. Left turn from a one-way street into a one-way street.
The turn must be started from the left hand portion of the road. Watch for bicycles between your vehicle and the curb because they can legally use the left turn lane for their left turns.

6. Right turn from a one-way street into a one-way street.
After starting your turn in the far right lane, you may use any lane open to traffic, if safe to do so. Sometimes signs or pavement markings will let you turn right from a lane next to the far right lane.

7. Turn at a "T" intersection from a one-way into a two-way street.
Through traffic has the right-of-way. You may turn either right or left from the center lane. Watch for vehicles and bicycles inside your turn.


D. Freeway / Highway / City Driving

1. Freeway / Highway - The increased speed required on highways does not necessarily mean an increased danger to you if certain precautions are taken and practices are followed. When driving on open highways, it is imperative to keep clear from and be aware of slow-moving vehicles. Early awareness of vehicles moving at substantially slower speeds than the flow of traffic can help you to avoid rear-end collisions or unsafe last-minute lane changes. Excessive lane changing or driving in slower lanes for prolonged periods of time can contribute to a last-minute encounter with a slow-moving vehicle. Special notes on freeway driving:

Other things to consider when driving on freeways:

2. Special Freeway Problems - When driving on a freeway for an extended length of time, two problems could arise: velocitation and highway hypnosis.

a. Unknowingly accelerating to higher speeds while driving is known as velocitation. When driving at faster speeds for any length of time, your body will adjust and incorrectly feel as if the car is going slower than it actually is. The best way to avoid this problem is to check the speedometer often. Make sure to look at the ramp speed limit signs and drive accordingly when exiting the freeway. After you exit the freeway, checking your speed becomes more important. It takes time for your body and your vehicle to adjust to the slower speeds.

b. The second problem that might occur while driving for extended periods on the freeway is highway hypnosis. This occurs when you have been driving at a steady speed with no stopping or slowing for a long period of time. In addition to this steady speed, most freeway driving is dull with not much to look at. These factors help to make you a more relaxed person, which in time makes you less attentive to your surroundings. In some situations, drivers have even been known to fall asleep at the wheel. Here are some ways to avoid this drowsiness:

Extra notes on freeway driving... If you subconsciously drive too fast, allow yourself time to re-adjust to a lower speed without braking suddenly. Always be aware of the vehicle's speedometer. If you encounter a toll facility, slow dramatically and prepare to stop. Avoid lane changing when you approach a toll facility, if possible.

3. FREEWAY EMERGENCIES/PROBLEMS - Freeway emergencies can range from the unexpected appearance of an object in your lane to an accident. Whenever emergencies arise, which is quite often, you will basically have two options. You can stop before the incident or try to steer around it. If the object is small enough to drive over without hurting your vehicle, you should slow down and drive over it. If it is a danger to you or your vehicle, reduce your speed quickly, check your rear view and side mirrors to find an open lane, and then steer around the object, making sure to avoid getting into an accident with any other vehicles around you. If it is impossible to steer around the object, you will have to stop quickly. Make sure you first tap your brakes so that other drivers see your warning. Then apply your brakes, and make sure to leave as much space as possible between your vehicle and the object to decrease the possibility of being rear-ended. When you have come to a stop, turn your hazard lights on.

4. TOLL FACILITIES - Toll facilities can be a danger to drivers on a freeway. They exist to collect fees for traveling on publicly owned roads. When you approach a toll facility, first scan the road for speed limit signs. Speeds need to be decreased as you get closer to the booth. Make sure to follow the signs for designated vehicle lanes. Some special lane signs will include: "exact change," "autos only," and "trucks only," to name a few. Find your appropriate lane and have your payment ready before you reach the toll facility. Be cautious of other vehicles in front of you and around you that stop or change lanes at the last minute.

5. CITY DRIVING - You must slow down when driving in the city due to the increased traffic and road congestion. Certain precautions to take include:

6. GRIDLOCK - Gridlock is an increasing problem throughout the highways and streets of the United States. The following are steps which all drivers can take to help reduce this growing problem:


E. Intersections - An intersection is defined as the space between the four curbs of the sidewalk. When there is a signal, you may enter the intersection on a green or yellow light and proceed out of it, even if the light turns red after having entered. If you enter an intersection on a green or yellow light, but are unable to completely pass the intersection prior to the light turning red, thus blocking traffic, you may cause a gridlock situation. Gridlock exists when a vehicle gets stuck in an intersection at a red light, preventing cross traffic from use of the highway. Oftentimes, a gridlock violation is a parking ticket, not a moving violation. The first line distinguishing a crosswalk marks the beginning of the intersection.

Some of the most important driving decisions, such as when to cross lanes, turn, or slow down, are all made at intersections, making them prime areas for potential accidents. A marked or controlled intersection will have a traffic signal or a stop or yield sign, and these help determine the right-of-way for drivers. Unmarked or uncontrolled intersections, usually in residential areas, call for drivers to decide who may proceed first through an intersection (usually the first vehicle approaching the intersection). If two vehicles approach the intersection at the same time, the vehicle to the immediate right will have the right-of-way. Additionally, during the last 100 feet prior to reaching an unmarked blind intersection, you must slow down to 15 mph.

1. Road or Intersection without Limit or Crosswalk Lines - In areas with no painted lines, you should use the end of a curb as a determination of where the intersection starts and where the vehicle should stop. The end of the curb would distinguish the beginning of the intersection in the area on the road where the crosswalk would exist if it were painted.

2. Extreme caution should be exercised when approaching and proceeding through intersections. Conflicting highways, motor vehicles making left and right turns, and opposing signals all increase the accident potential at an intersection. Collisions often result when drivers jump green lights and conflict with drivers who run red lights. By law, you must signal your intention to turn when within 100 feet of the intersection. It is always best to cross intersections that are signal-controlled as opposed to those only with stop signs. The speed or distance of other vehicles that may conflict with your vehicle should be determined, as well as the time required to complete the maneuver. Crossing an intersection completely takes an estimated four seconds.

3. Blind Intersections - When approaching a blind intersection, you must do so with extreme caution. Slow down and yield the right-of-way whenever it is not safe or prudent for your vehicle to proceed through unobstructed. If you reach an intersection at the same time as another vehicle or other vehicles, you should yield the right-of-way to the vehicle traveling on a continuing highway if your own vehicle is on a terminating highway. A blind intersection has limited visibility and requires that the speed of the vehicle be no more than 15 mph. The reduced speed will allow for ample time to see conflicting cars and road hazards. You must proceed through and towards a blind intersection at a reasonably safe speed, not exceeding 15 mph. Furthermore, you must have visibility of at least 100 feet in all directions before attempting to pass through.

4. Roads with Limit Lines - You must stop behind the limit line at an intersection or street controlled by a traffic light and only proceed when the light changes. At a street or intersection with a stop sign, you must also stop behind the limit line before you proceed out into the intersection, which must be done at a cautious speed, to start a turn or other maneuver.

F. Crosswalks

G. Bicycle and Motorcycle Safety

1. Bicycle - A bicycle can legally ride in a traffic lane on the road, provided it can keep up with the flow of regular vehicular traffic. However, you can only cross into a bicycle lane when making a right turn while driving. Do not drive in the bicycle lane except within the last 200 feet before the intersection where the right turn will be made. In addition, your vehicle may not be in a bicycle lane unless entering or leaving the highway, preparing to turn, or parking where parking is permitted. Bicycles typically ride near the right curb of the road, but may move into the lane to the left to pass another bicycle or vehicle or to avoid hitting another object. Special care and extra space needs should be observed when driving near a bicycle.

Each year, there are 67 million bicyclists who ride approximately 15 billion hours in the United States. Over half a million people are injured each year in bicycle-related crashes, while over 90% of the deaths from bicycle-related injuries are caused by collisions with motor vehicles. An injury to the head is the greatest risk bicyclists face, comprising one-third of the emergency room visits, two-thirds of hospital admissions, and three-fourths of the deaths. Children tend to be at the greatest risk on bicycles because they often do not practice safe riding techniques or wear a bicycle helmet. As a result, about 20% of bicyclist deaths occur in the 5 to 15 year old age group.

Be considerate of bicyclists. Bicycles are considered vehicles and should be given the right-of-way when appropriate. Watch for bicycles that are in traffic and when you are at intersections. Give a bicyclist at least three feet of space when you pass. When conditions are poor (i.e. bad weather, potholes or debris on the road, etc.), give the bicyclist even more space. Avoid following too closely. Switch to low beams at night when you see a bicyclist approaching, just as you would for a car or truck. When you are ready to leave your vehicle, keep an eye out for bicycles before opening your door.

2. Motorcycles - Motorcycles are involved in a high number of traffic accidents, due in large part to their "invisibility" on the road. A vehicle's side mirrors are important tools enabling a motorist to see motorcycles and reduce the number of these accidents. Motorcyclists must obey the same driving laws as all other drivers.

a. By law, a motorcyclist and any passenger must wear a helmet or protective headgear while riding on public highways, and it is recommended they wear boots and gloves as well.

b. REMEMBER...Motorcycles must be shown extra attention while on the road. Extra room must be left for the motorcycle when it makes turns, and allowances should be given for its lane changing, positioning, and increases in speed.

A study conducted by Harry Hurt at the University of Southern California, called “Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures,” found the following:

Although this study was published in 1981, it is still valuable for the insights it offers on motorcycle accidents, and its safety tips are still relevant today. The following are some of those safety tips offered as a result of these observations:

The use of a safety helmet while riding a motorcycle has proven to greatly reduce your risk of serious injury when involved in an accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests the following tips to safely share the road with motorcyclists:

H. Lanes, Lines and Curb Markings

I. Lanes of the Road

1. Divided Highways - These are roadways divided by barriers at least two feet wide, which may be raised or painted. Traffic in the opposite direction may pass each other on the right side of the road only. It is illegal to cross over these barriers, even if there is no traffic coming from the opposite direction.

2. Laned Roadways - Roadways that have multiple lanes in each direction have broken white lines separating each lane of travel. You must stay within your lane until you make a lane change. These lanes are marked for use by one vehicle at a time.

3. Three-Laned Highways - A roadway that has traffic traveling in opposite directions may have three lanes. The center lane, unless marked otherwise, may be used only to overtake and pass another vehicle, and only when it is safe to do so. If it is earmarked for one direction of travel, the far left lane should be used for faster traffic or as a passing lane.

J. High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes - High occupancy vehicle lanes are available for those vehicles traveling with a minimum of two or three occupants, including the driver (signs will indicate the minimum number of occupants and applicable hours and days). These lanes promote ride-sharing to save fuel and cut down on the number of vehicles on the highways. HOV lanes are marked with the words "HOV LANE" and a diamond-shaped symbol. You should only enter and exit these lanes at the designated places, but never cross over the double solid yellow lines or any barriers.

K. One-way Streets - Oftentimes, drivers have difficulty identifying one-way streets. One-way streets are most commonly found in cities. They are designed to help move traffic faster and decrease the chance of conflicts with other drivers. The following indicators should alert you to these areas:

L. Turn Out Lanes - Turn out lanes are designated lanes to be used by slow-moving vehicles, enabling them to pull over and allow faster traffic to pass by. These lanes are common on mountain roads and one-lane highways, and they are relatively short in length. Signs indicate where the lane will begin and the distance before you reach it. By law, if you are being followed by five or more vehicles, you must pull over as soon as you come to a turn out lane and let traffic pass.