Everything you always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask, about the proper way to turn a vehicle on NY State Roadways

Have you ever made a turn while driving your car and asked yourself “self, the turn I just made, was that done legally or illegally?” Well, get a cup o’Joe and buckle up. This article explains the legalities of turning your vehicle from one street to the next.

The first thing you need to concern yourself with is the position of your vehicle when turning. Under NY VTL § 1160, a motorist intending to turn right at an intersection. Required position and method of turning at intersections. The driver of a vehicle intending to turn at an intersection shall do so  “as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge  of  the  roadway  or,  where  travel  on  the  shoulder or slope has been authorized, from the shoulder or slope.”

For a left turn, it’s a bit different. Where 2 way traffic is permitted “an approach for a left turn shall be made in that  portion of  the right half of the roadway nearest the center line thereof and by passing  to  the  right  of  such  center  line  where  it  enters   the intersection  and after entering the intersection the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection to the right of the center line  of the  roadway  being entered. Whenever practicable the left turn shall be made in that portion of the intersection to the left of the center of the intersection.”

What this means is that you stay on your side of the road until you enter the intersection, and then you make your left turn, and that when you are on your side of the road you make your left turn from the left side of your side of the road.

If you are making a left turn on roads that are not two way roads, you must “approach the intersection in  the  extreme  left-hand lane of the  roadway lawfully  available  to  traffic  moving  in the direction of travel of such vehicle or, where travel on the shoulder  or slope  has  been  authorized,  from  the  shoulder or slope, and after entering the intersection the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection, as nearly as practicable, in the left-hand  lane  lawfully available to traffic  moving  in such direction upon the roadway being entered.

In addition, the law requires that, notwithstanding the above, “When markers, buttons, signs, or other markings are placed  within or  adjacent  to  intersections  and  thereby  require and direct that a  different course from that specified in  this  section  be  traveled  by vehicles turning at an intersection, no driver of a vehicle shall turn a  vehicle  at  an intersection other than as directed and required by such   markers, buttons, signs, or other markings.” NY VTL § 1160(d).

As for U-Turns: “U-turns shall be made from and to that portion of  the highway nearest  the  marked center line. Where more than one lane of a highway has been designated for left turns, U-turns shall be made only from the lane so designated that is adjacent to the marked center line.” NY VTL § 1160(e).

Notwithstanding the ability to make a U-turn, under NY VTL § 1161 U-turns are prohibited within 500 feet of:

  • A curve
  • A grade (i.e., incline or decline)
  • The crest of a hill
  • In a school zone

When you move a vehicle that has been parked or otherwise stopped, you can only do so when it is save to move the vehicle. NY VTL § 1162.

When you turn from lane to lane or at an intersection from one roadway to the next, or from a roadway onto a private driveway or roadway, it must be done only when safe to do so. Furthermore, whenever this is done the motorist must signal that he is changing lanes or turning. The signal must be given continuously and not less than 100 feet prior to the turn. NY VTL § 1163. Signal to turn may be given by either lamp or hand and arm, except that if a vehicle is a truck in which the steering column is more than 24 inches from the left exterior of the vehicle, or 14 feet or more from the rear of the vehicle, then lamp signals must be used. NY VTL § 1164.

Signals can only be used to signal an intent to turn, change lanes, or start from a parked position. It is prohibited to use a signal to flash on one side only on a disabled vehicle, or flashed as a courtesy to other drivers’ signal that it is safe for them to pass. NY VTL § 1163(d).

To turn from a roadway into an alley. Driveway, or private road, the driver must turn as required under NY VTL § 1160. See, NY VTL § 1166.

So that’s it. That is the law in making turns in NY.

If you have been charged with a New York State moving violation we know that you may be confused or have questions. If this is the case give us a call now (anytime 24 / 7), and our lawyers will provide you with a free strategy session. During this session you will receive information about the ticket, information about the court, information about how a finding of guilty will impact your driving record and insurance rate, and how we can assist you in avoiding license suspensions and insurance increases.