Center Turning Lanes

How To Handle The Center Turn Lane

Are you sometimes confused when you are trying to make a turn from the center lane? A center left-turn lane allows cars to turn left without disrupting the flow of traffic. A center turning lane is also referred to as a universal turn lane or even the “suicide lane.”

The lane is defined in Arizona as a “two-way left turn lane.” In Arizona, a driver shouldn’t make a left turn from any other lane or drive a car in the lane except for when making a left turn or a u-turn where it’s permitted. The center lane is also used by drivers entering from a side street or driveway.

The center turn lane is used by traffic going in both directions. You need to look for oncoming cars and pedestrians as well as cars going in your direction.

Dangers of Center Turning Lanes

“Many people use this lane improperly, particularly when traffic is backed up, by driving in that lane for some distance before making a turn,” said Phoenix Accident Lawyer Ken Gerber. “The problem is that vehicles driving in the other direction may be doing the same thing — coming right at you.”

Don’t confuse a dedicated turn lane for a center turn lane. Dedicated turn lanes at intersections may only be used by one direction of traffic. Center turn lanes run down the entire road and may be used by both directions of traffic.

“The statute in Arizona clearly states that moving into the center turn lane is only allowed when preparing for or making a left turn,” said Gerber.  As a Phoenix accident lawyer, Gerber says the debate is always about the definition of “preparing” vs. how long a driver should prepare for a turn.

Generally, you can’t use the center turn lane to merge with traffic. In other words, you can’t accelerate in the center turn lane and then pull into traffic. You must stop and wait for a break in the traffic. 

“The answer is always going to be to make the safe choice, but more importantly courts will likely interpret that you have to be very close to your turn, not a block away, two blocks away or further,” explained Gerber.

“The final consideration is that anytime you are changing lanes, you have a duty to make sure that the lane is clear. If a vehicle is already in the universal turn lane to your left, that vehicle has the right of way and you should yield.”

Gerber Injury Law has a team of experts who can help if you should be a victim of someone not obeying the center turning lane laws. If you’re needing a Phoenix accident lawyer, please call us today!

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