When to Execute a Legal U-Turn

Making a wrong turn or going the wrong way when traveling is almost inevitable. However, knowing when it is legal to make a U-turn – a turn that results in a vehicle reversing its direction of travel – can become quite the challenge.

State Laws

Most states have different rules and laws that regulate this type of turn, making it difficult to know when it is acceptable and when it is not acceptable to execute a U-turn when traveling from state to state.

Safe does not Mean Legal

Most people assume that unless otherwise stated or prohibited – for example by a sign depicting an illegal U-turn symbol – executing a U-turn in a safe, open part of a highway or freeway is legal as long as the vehicle making the turn does not endanger anyone else on the road. Unfortunately, signs that explain the legality of executing a U-turn in a certain area are usually not prominently displayed, if they even exist at all.

To make this law more complicated, states often have regulations that permit local governments to further define the legality of a U-turn in its own city and county area.

Following the Rules

Even if you knew the rules of a U-turn for the state that you pass through while you are traveling, the local police could pull you over and ticket you for making an illegal U-turn for that city.

Although knowing when to execute a U-turn can be challenging, following these guidelines will help reduce the likelihood of breaking a city U-turn law.

1. Never make a U-turn where there is a sign placed in the area or around the area that is prohibiting U-turns.

2. Do not execute a U-turn if you are at the top or bottom of a hill or when going around a curve.

3. Make sure to look around you and check for police officers, and if you see one, try not to execute a U-turn, regardless of legality.

4. When in the middle of the block, do not make a U-turn in urban/residential areas as it is dangerous to the people in the area.

5. Lastly, do not make a U-turn that would require you to go over a solid line on the road.

Of course the easiest way to ensure that you would not get a ticket would be to not execute a U-turn at all. Pulling off the road at the next possible exit, going around the block, executing multiple turns, or rerouting your travel plans with a GPS or map system would ensure that you abided by the laws of wherever you are traveling.