Maybe I’ll Just Stay In The Driveway
I'll admit it. The left turn lane in Utah frustrates me. I know, I haven't taken driver training in one or two centuries now, so laws have certainly changed over the millennia that I have been driving. And when I was a youth getting drivers education and training it was in a whole different state to boot, so what I grew up with is not what I deal with now. But where I was taught the “two way left turn lane” (the official designation in Utah code....we'll get back to that) was to be used only for making left turns from.
We had Darrin Adams, the Cedar City Police Chief on the Big Picture Morning Show some time ago and I asked him about that and he said that, as it is now, those lanes can be used to turn from and to turn to. Well, that was a change for me. I thought all these people turning left into those lanes and putting the fear of the afterlife in to me as I was sure they were about to collide with me, were heinous lawbreakers who needed to be locked up with the key thrown away. Well, I was wrong, at least about the law breaking part.
Since I haven't had a good headache in awhile I decided to look up the the law as it refers to the left turn lanes. Do you know how much fun it is to read Utah Code? Spoiler alert, it isn't
Utah Code Title 41, Chapter 6a, Part 8, Section 801 has the riveting title “Turning – Manner – Traffic-Control Devices.” Nodding off yet?
From this we learn several fascinating things. First of all, you seemingly innocent right turners, you don't get off Scott free. The first item in this states that
Right turns: both a right turn and an approach for a right turn shall be made as close as practical to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.
None of this turning right from the middle of the street stuff, and your tires ought to be rubbing the curb!
Then the real fun begins...
Left turns: (a) the operator of a vehicle intending to turn left shall approach the turn from the extreme left-hand lane for traffic moving in the same direction; (b) whenever practicable, shall be made by turning onto the roadway being entered in the extreme left-hand lane for traffic moving in the new direction, unless otherwise directed by a traffic-control device; and (c)may be made on a highway across solid double yellow line pavement markings indicating a two-direction, no-passing zone.
Yes, but what about that “two way left turn lane?” This is must read stuff here!
(a) where a two-way left turn lane is provided, a left turn may not be made from any other lane; (b) a vehicle may not be driven in the two-way left turn lane except when preparing for or making: (1) a left turn from or into the roadway; or (2) a U-turn except when prohibited by a traffic-control device;
But wait! There's more!
(c)(i)except as provided under Subsection (3)(c)(ii), the operator of a vehicle intending to turn left may not enter a two-way left turn lane more than 500 feet prior to making the turn; (ii) if traffic in the two-way left turn lane extends beyond 500 feet, the operator of a vehicle intending to turn left may enter the two-way left turn lane immediately upon reaching the last vehicle in the two-way left turn lane;
(d) the operator of a vehicle that has turned left into the two-way left turn lane may not travel in the lane more than 500 feet unless the operator intends to turn left and subsection (3)(c)(ii) applies and (e) the operator intends to turn left and Subsection (3)(c)(ii) applies
Here's some other nifty tips I saw when looking in to this
Left turn lanes are designated areas of the road that are intended for turning left. Who knew?
Drivers turning left from a left turn lane must yield to oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Or get hit.
When turning left from a left turn lane, drivers must use a signal for at least the last 100 feet before the turn. Signal?!?? Turn signal?!!? I had to laugh! Do we know what those even are?
If there is no left turn lane, drivers must turn left from the closest lane to the left side of the center line of the roadway. Wouldn't that put us in to oncoming traffic?
There you have it. Everything you could possibly want to know about making turn in Utah.To all of you who have been turning left in to the two way left turn lanes, I humbly owe you an apology. You were not and are not breaking the law. But I still think you are going to run into me.