One of the most dangerous parts of everyday driving is making a left turn. Turning left safely involves the coordination of a lot of elements, both mental and physical, so being aware of all these factors is essential to making left turns in a way that preserves the safety of both you and your passengers.
As long as your vehicle has a working turn signal, and you as a driver have awareness of traffic lights and intersections, then you should be capable of safely making a left turn. In this article we include the detailed steps to making a left turn including indicating with a turn signal, selecting the appropriate lane, obeying traffic lights, and maintaining your position within a turn lane.
How to turn left safely
Step 1: Do a pre-driving check. It is imperative that you make sure the lights on your car are working before you get out on the road.
This doesn’t mean you have to check every single time you take your car out on the road, but do a check every so often to make sure that your brake lights and turn signals are working properly.
A sure way to make your left turns as unsafe as possible is by not having your signals working, so that it is a lot easier for someone to rear end you.
Step 2: Locate your turn and put on your turn signal. Once you have the place you want to turn, turn on your left turn signal in advance.
Don’t wait until a few feet before your turn to slam on your brakes and hit the signal, but put your signal on about 100 feet before the turn.
Step 3: Slow down or come to a stop depending on the situation. You’ll want to slow down significantly before attempting the turn.
If you are coming to a red light, then you’ll want to stop once you get into the turn lane and approach the red light. If you are making a turn when the light is green or making a turn onto a side street without a light, then you should slow down enough to keep the car’s center of gravity stable.
If there is any sort of inclement weather, slow down even more than usual so you don’t lose control of the vehicle.
Step 4: Check the roadway for pedestrians. It is important to look for any pedestrians or other obstacles in the road and yield if so.
Step 5: Make a compact turn. You want make your turn as efficiently as possible, which means staying in your lane until the turn is complete and not making a wide turn.
A wide turn takes more time, so you are in a vulnerable position for longer, leading to the opportunity for an accident. This is true both when you are making a turn onto a side street and through a light.
If there is more than one turn lane, stay in your lane to avoid colliding with other cars that are turning, and wait to switch lanes until you straighten back out and there is a reasonable gap you can merge into.
Step 6: Straighten your wheels back out. Once the turn is completed, you can align your wheels with the road and either turn your signal off or wait for it to shut off automatically.
Any time you cross over into traffic coming from a different direction then you have to be sure you know what you are doing and paying attention to other drivers. Always make sure your turn signals are in working order, and replace the lights as needed. Don’t drive without working indicator lights, as this is the only way to safely notify other vehicles about your intended movement. Be extra cautious when making left hand turns as they require you to navigate across an oncoming traffic lane.