Approaching Intersections

When you are approaching an intersection, make sure that you are aware of road markings and signs to let you know which lanes are allowed to move in which directions. Move into the proper lane for where you are headed, and be sure to check your mirrors and blind spot to ensure that you make a safe transition into a neighboring lane. Many streets have signs and pavement markings to indicate how a particular lane is meant to be used, whether it is for traveling straight ahead or to turn left or right onto neighboring roads. If you end up in the wrong lane for where you intended to travel, follow the pavement markings or signs intended for that lane.

If you do not follow those markings and attempt to travel in the wrong direction for the lane you are driving within, you may cause a crash. It is best to follow the road signs and markings, then make a u-turn or other travel decision to make your way toward your destination once you have left the intersection.

If a lane is straight only, do not attempt to make a left or right turn from that lane. The same goes for lanes which are turn only, do not attempt to go straight in one of those lanes.

Sometimes, there are dual left turn lanes. In these situations, there is an outer and inner left turn lane, and vehicles in each lane turn together onto the neighboring road of the intersection. When you are making a left turn from one of those lanes, do not change lanes in the middle of the intersection or immediately once you are on the neighboring road where you complete your left turn. Sometimes the outer left turn lane is also a lane which can move straight ahead. If this is the case and you are driving in the inner left turn lane, do not assume that the driver to your right will drive straight through the intersection. Assumptions on the road can cause car crashes, for example, if a driver in that inner left turn lane tries to change lanes to the middle or right lane on the neighboring road.

When you are at a traffic signal, your safety depends on your proper response to the green, yellow, and red lights. When you are at a two way stop or a four way stop, your safety depends on your coming to a full stop when you reach the intersection, and using your understanding of right of way laws to properly move through the intersection when it is your turn.

One Way, Wrong Way, and Do Not Enter Signs

When in the middle of a big city, there are often many one way streets. In this case, there are One Way signs posted on these roads to let you know the only direction available for you to travel in. On these streets, vehicles are only allowed to travel in one direction, and they may only park in one direction as well.

Each of these signs, One Way, Wrong Way, and Do Not Enter, are often found on a divided highway. These signs let you know the directions which you can and cannot travel in. Do Not Enter signs will let you know that you are unable to travel on that road in that direction, and this is to separate traffic that is moving in each direction. These intersections may also have a sign labeled Divided Highway.

Traveling Through Intersections Safely

Whenever you approach an intersection with a two way stop sign, you need a six second gap in both directions in order to cross a 30 mph street, or about a block of clear space to the left or right. When you arrive at the stop sign, first you must look left, then look right for a safe gap, and then quickly check the left again to ensure you are safe to proceed.

When you are turning right, look left, straight ahead, right, and then left again. This will help you make sure there is no oncoming traffic. There must be a gap of eight seconds between you and any vehicle approaching from the left in order to avoid a crash.

When you are turning left, make sure that you have a clear gap to turn in front of oncoming traffic from your left, and that traffic across the street coming from the right is stopped. If you are turning from a side street onto a main street, ensure that there is a nine second gap between you and any vehicle approaching from the right.

Note: You should never start a turn when you cannot see all of the lanes are clear, or if you are unsure that you can safely make a turn.