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Positioning vehicle correctly for right or left turns

I recently had someone discuss a maneuver that perhaps many drivers perform poorly — namely, swinging wide for turns. So let’s review the proper positioning of your vehicle for turning right or left.

Section 1166 of Vehicle and Traffic Law addresses turning at an alley, driveway or private road, or onto property off the roadway as follows: The approach for a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. The approach for a left-hand turn from a two-way roadway shall be made in that portion of the right half of the roadway nearest the center thereof. And the approach for a left turn from a one-way road shall be made in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic.

Although Section 1166 of VTL doesn’t include turning into other public streets and roadways, the New York State Driver’s Manual does. It states, for right turns, to “stay as far to the right as possible, and to avoid making wide, sweeping turns.”

For left turns from a two-way road into a two-way road, the manual says to approach the turn with your left wheels as close as possible to the center line. (If it is a rural area where no lines exist, stay as close as possible to the center of the roadway). Try to use the left side of the intersection to help ensure that you do not interfere with opposing traffic turning left. Stay to the right of the center line of the road you enter, but as close as possible to the center line. Be alert for traffic, especially motorcycles, as oncoming motorcycles are difficult to see and may also be difficult to judge their speed and distance. The same could be said for bicycles.

When turning left from a two-way road into a four-lane highway, VTL requires you to enter the fourcenter-lane roadway in the left lane, but obviously to the right of the centerline. When traffic permits, you may then move out of the left lane. Many drivers fail to do this legally, especially at the West Main Street/Finney Boulevard intersection in Malone. Southbound drivers on Finney Boulevard approaching this intersection for a left turn onto West Main Street MUST, by law, turn into the left eastbound lane, but many drivers turn immediately into the right lane. Similarly, northbound drivers on Finney Boulevard turning west onto West Main Street also must turn into the left lane, and then move into the right-hand lane.

The above is meant for drivers of cars and small or medium-sized trucks. Semis, buses and oversized vehicles may be too large to make these turns as stated. Most likely, that is why VTL Section 1166 doesn’t include turns into another public roadway — because they just are unable to execute these turns in the manner stated.

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