Ask the Chief: When turning, stay in your lane
"Ask The Chief" allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.
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Q: Is it legal for somebody to make a right turn when you're making a left turn on a left arrow?
A: Thank you for this question. The short answer is yes, a vehicle at an intersection may make a right hand turn, as long as there are no signs that prohibit right turn on red, and the lane of traffic is clear (yield to oncoming traffic).
If you are talking about oncoming traffic that is planning to turn right onto the same road that you wish to turn onto, since you have the green turn arrow, they will have a red light and must wait until you have cleared your turn.
To clarify, when talking about the road way, we have the right side (your lane of traffic), centerline and left side (oncoming traffic), even at the intersection, there are left and ride sides and centerlines which divide the traffic.
Minnesota Statute 169.19 Turning, Starting and Signaling states that when making a left turn, the vehicle turning will move in the right half of the roadway, nearest the centerline and after entering the intersection the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection to the right of the centerline of the roadway being entered.
It is important to note that you shall not cross the centerline, while making your turn or you may be cited for a turning violation.
For the vehicle wishing to make a right turn at the intersection, approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, if it is safe to do so (and if there are NO signs prohibiting the right turn on red).
(There are exceptions for vehicle configurations that require a larger turning radius; however they can only turn when the area needed to make the turn successfully is clear and safe to do so.)
As you can see, if you are making a left-hand turn and staying on the right side of the roadway near the centerline, and the vehicle making the right-hand turn is staying as close as possible to the right-hand curb, your vehicles should not come close to each other.
Numerous times in my career I have responded to intersection crashes, where the vehicle turning left has "cut" the corner, crossing the centerline and striking the vehicle in the left side of the roadway. Be a safe vehicle operator and keep your vehicle to your side of the centerline!
1. Minnesota Statute 169.19, Turning, Starting and Signaling. Located online at: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/2018/cite/169.19
2. Minnesota Drivers Manual, located online at: https://www.leg.state.mn.us/docs/2015/other/150439.pdf