Tip Sheet

The dos and don’ts of turning left at an intersection

You should know this by heart
How to turn left at an intersection
PHOTO: Shutterstock

No, you didn’t read the title wrong. Believe it or not, turning left at an intersection actually needs to be taught to some people who hold valid driver’s licenses, have been behind the wheel for years, and aren’t male models named Derek Zoolander. It’s pretty basic stuff, yet we see motorists getting it wrong every single day. What a world we live in, right?

Anyway, here’s an outline on how to turn left at a basic intersection. Other types of intersections may have specific rules in place that you need to follow, so always make sure to pay attention to road signs.

1) Make your way into the proper turning lane.

And do this well before the intersection, not when you’re already about to turn left. Usually, this is the leftmost lane, or the lane closest to the center.

2) Use your turn signal.

Signal left to alert other drivers that you’re about to turn. Do this no later than 30 meters away from the intersection.

3) Check your surroundings.

Make sure the road is clear before entering the intersection. Check your mirrors, too.

4) Ensure that you know who has right of way before proceeding.

If you’re turning left and there’s oncoming traffic heading straight across from the other side, give way first before making your turn.

5) Start your turn once your front tire hits the center of the intersection.

If one of those yellow ‘X’ outlines is painted on the road, use it as a guide.


6) Stay in the appropriate lane once you’ve turned.

Then, straighten your wheels before speeding up again.

Now, for the don’ts of turning left at intersections:

1) Don’t start your turn too early.

This is a common mistake. Doing so might end up with you cutting a corner and stealing space from other cars.

2) Don’t make the mistake of turning too wide or swerving, either.

This also puts you at risk of colliding with oncoming traffic or cutting off someone else’s space. For example:

3) Don’t counterflow to make your turn.

This goes without saying. For the love of all that is still sacred about driving, don’t be that guy.

So there you have it. Now go forth, drive safe, and spread the word to other drivers who should know better.

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PHOTO: Shutterstock
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