Making Turns
Center Turn Lane

Center Turn Lane Rules: How To Make a Left Turn Safely & Avoid Traveling

Updated April 10, 2019

Center left turn lanes are also referred to as two-way left turn lanes. These lanes are designed to improve the flow of traffic at busy intersections, by allowing drivers to safely turn left without interfering with motorists traveling straight on. You will encounter center left turn lanes in the middle of a two-way street, outlined on both sides with painted yellow dividing lines.

You may use the two-way left turn lane when turning left onto the roadway from an alley or driveway. Below are the other rules you must consider when using the center turn lane.

Road signs and pavement markings

Center left turn lanes are easy to identify, as they are marked the same way everywhere. The start of the lane is usually always highlighted with a “CENTER LANE LEFT TURN ONLY” sign. Drivers who are approaching the intersection with the intention to drive straight through must merge out of this lane at the earliest opportunity.

The road markings used for a center left turn lane are distinctive and will not be seen elsewhere. Both outside lines are yellow, with the inner line broken and the outside line solid. Now that you know how to spot a two-way left turn lane, let’s talk about how they must be used.

How to use a center left turn lane

Drivers should adhere to the following guidelines when using a center left turn lane:

  1. 1

    Check for opposing trafficin the center left turn lane. Remember that drivers coming from both directions may use this lane. You must make sure there is space before proceeding.

  2. 2

    Make sure you are not being passed,using your mirrors and turning to check your blind spots.

  3. 3

    Do not travel in the two-way left turn laneunless you intend to turn left.Merge into the laneat the distance recommended in your state driving manual. Most official handbooks recommend joining a center left turn lane around 200 to 400 feet prior to the intersection.

  4. 4

    Keep your wheels straight until you begin to turn.When it is safe to do so, enter the center left turn lane to complete the maneuver.

These rules apply when entering a two-way left turn lane from a driveway or alley:

  • Activate your left turn signal to show your intention to turn onto the roadway. Wait for a safe gap before attempting to join the center left turn lane.
  • Check that the lane is clear in both directions before pulling out onto the street.
  • Once in the center lane you must merge into the adjacent lane at the next available opportunity, as traveling in the turn lane is prohibited. Do not attempt to use the center left turn lane as an acceleration lane.

Common mistakes

It is not uncommon to see inexperienced drivers using the center turn lane incorrectly, despite its purpose and the rules governing its use being quite straight forward. Make yourself aware of the restrictions concerning two-way left turn lanes and using it appropriately should be easy.

  1. 1

    Do not travel in the center turn lane.As we mentioned above, drivers may not travel further than 200 to 400 feet in this lane. This applies to drivers using the turn lane to enter the roadway, as well as those using it to turn.

  2. 2

    Do not pass other vehicles in the center turn lane.As soon as you enter the center left turn lane,passing other vehiclesis out of the question. Up ahead, motorists may have stopped or significantly slowed in preparation for a left turn. Attempting to pass could cause a collision.

  3. 3

    Do not park in the center left turn lane!This might seem like an obvious restriction, but it happens occasionally none-the-less. If you experience a mechanical fault and need to pull your vehicle over, head for the right side of the road rather than stopping in the center lane.

Would you pass a driving test today?

Find out with our free quiz!

TAKE A FREE TEST

Like the article? Give us 5 points!

Click a star to add your vote

5.0 out of 5 stars based on 3 votes.

Read next

Making a Two-Point Turn
Making Turns 7 of 9

Two Point Turns

When the roadway is not wide enough to make a U-turn, drivers can use a two-point turn to change direction. This will usually only be possible on quiet suburban streets, when there is an available driveway on the left or right side of the road to facilitate the turn. Two-point turns using driveways on the left are more dangerous, as the driver must reverse the vehicle into a traffic lane.

Three Point Turn
Making Turns 8 of 9

Three Point Turn

Three-point turns are more complex than two-point turns and U-turns. You must know how to execute a safe three-point turn, as they are a standard point of assessment on practical driving tests state-wide. If you need to reverse your direction of travel on a street that is too narrow for a U-turn and has no driveways to allow a two-point turn, making a three-point turn will be your only option.

Making a U-Turn
Making Turns 9 of 9

U-Turns

Making a U-turn is the quickest and easiest way to turn your vehicle around should you need to reverse your direction of travel. This may happen if you find you are traveling in the wrong direction or if you accidentally over-shoot your destination.

Review
Using Driving Lanes 4 of 4

Merging onto A Highway

No matter how thoroughly you mentally prepare yourself for the challenge of driving on the highway, your very first time is going to be stressful. Knowing what you are doing on paper is not the same as being able to execute the advanced maneuvers needed during highway driving. Being around other motorists traveling at speed is intimidating but you will quickly adapt, with regular practice and guidance from your instructor. Let’s find out what you need to know about entering a highway and merging with other traffic safely.

Making Turns 1 of 9

Making Turns

The art of making turns correctly is a skill often neglected by learner drivers. There are more techniques involved in turning than simply moving the steering wheel in the direction you wish to go. When turning to completely reverse your direction of travel – perhaps because you have missed your destination or are going the wrong way – you have three main options. These are U-turns, two-point turns and three-point turns.

Making Turns 2 of 9

Protected Turns

Protected turns are made at signal-controlled intersections when a green arrow light is present. When a turn is protected, all other streams of traffic, cyclists and pedestrians are halted by red traffic signals. This makes protected turns safer and easier to negotiate than unprotected turns, as the chances of colliding with another road user are minimized.

Making Turns 3 of 9

Unprotected Turns

Any and all turns made at intersections without the aid of a green arrow signal qualify as unprotected turns. When the turn is unprotected, you must yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic and pedestrians before turning.

Making Turns 4 of 9

Making a Right Turn

While all course changes require knowledge and skill, making a right turn is easier, safer and more straight-forward than making a left turn. When turning right you do not need to worry about traffic traveling in the opposite direction from the road you are entering, which makes things a whole lot simpler. In some areas you can even turn right against a red traffic signal

Making Turns 5 of 9

Making a Left Turn

Turning left is riskier and demands more caution than turning right, because the turn will take you across the path of traffic which is traveling toward you, from the opposite direction. Be sure to signal your intention to turn left as early as possible, while observing any right-of-way laws that are relevant to your situation. Drivers must also take particular care when turning left onto a street from an alley or driveway and learn how to use a center left turn lane.