"Left Turns on Residential Streets" Structured Practice
How to Drive a Car: Left Turns on Residential Streets
Turns at any intersections must be performed correctly to avoid a mishap. Learning how to drive a car requires you being able to properly execute turns. You will be tested on this during your road test. Left turns are one of the most dangerous maneuvers on the road because when you turn left, you need to cross in front of a moving stream of traffic.
As a new driver just learning how to drive a car you will have difficulty judging how quickly traffic is coming toward you. Some vehicles are moving slowly. Others are speeding. You also will have to decide whether or not the approaching vehicles will stop. Drivers are unpredictable. They signal without turning; they turn without signaling and they run red lights. You cannot depend on other drivers to “tell” you what they intend to do.
Learning how to drive a car is learning how to do the right thing – without expecting other drivers to do the right thing.
If you aren’t sure that it’s safe – WAIT! No matter what anyone else says. Even if your friends are yelling “Go!” Even if the guy in the car on the other side of the lane motions for you to go. Wait until YOU are sure it’s safe to go.
Have you ever noticed how often you see debris (like broken headlights and chunks of fender) in the middle of intersections? That’s because intersections are dangerous places - and the ones where you see the most rubble – are the most dangerous!
Tips for Dealing with Intersections:
- If the light ahead has been yellow for a while, start slowing down as you approach it. While you do, check your mirrors to make sure the guy behind you has time to stop too.
- When your light turns green, don’t race off the mark. Pause for 2 to 3 seconds. Look left- then right – then left again. Proceed across the intersection when you’re certain it’s safe.
- Don’t enter an intersection unless you’re certain there’s room to make it through completely before the light changes to red. Sometimes when traffic is snarled, cars get stuck in the middle after the light changes. You definitely don’t want to be there. At the very least, you’ll cause a gridlock situation that will make all the drivers around you very angry.
- Sometimes the driver behind you will honk if he thinks you’re moving through the intersection too slowly. Don’t let him rush you. NEVER proceed until you’re certain you can do so safely.
- NEVER cross lanes of traffic when you can’t see what’s coming – even though other drivers may beckon you that the way is clear. If you can’t see for yourself, wait until you can.
In order to turn left, you need to cross the line of traffic coming from the other direction. While you’re sitting in the middle of the intersection waiting to make your turn - you are very vulnerable to being hit by oncoming traffic. Part of the problem is that it’s difficult to determine how quickly oncoming cars are approaching. Sometimes it might look like you have enough time to turn but the approaching car is going faster than you think. Or the light might turn yellow and you think it’s your turn to go, but the approaching car decides he’s going to speed up to get through the yellow light instead. Or sometimes drivers get distracted so they don’t notice the light changing, and go through the intersection anyway.
It’s important to remember that you never have the right-of-way when you are turning left. You must wait for all approaching vehicles to come to a stop or clear the intersection before you complete your turn.
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