Making a Left Turn at an Intersection

Left TurnThis column is dedicated to the middle aged male driver who turned left in the intersection and completed the turn half way into my lane as I approached him and half way into the lane that he was supposed to be using. Was he being inattentive, careless or did he not know any better?

Unless you are using an intersection that allows a left turn from multiple lanes, you approach the intersection in the lane closest to the center line. Enter the intersection itself with your vehicle still positioned to the right of the center line. If it is possible, turn your vehicle in an arc with an apex to the right of the center of the intersection. Enter the first available lane for your direction of traffic, with your vehicle positioned to the right of the center line of that road before you leave the intersection.

If multiple lanes are allowed to turn left, exit from and enter into the corresponding lanes on either side of the intersection in the manner outlined already. Of course, it may not be possible to remain to the left of the center of the intersection depending on the lane that you are in. Also, while it may not be illegal to change lanes in an intersection, a defensive driver will not do so.

Sir, you stick to your lane and I will stick to mine. While you may otherwise be a nice person, I don't want to accidentally meet you at an intersection!

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Yesterday, driving home from work in Port Alberni, I had a large truck following me relatively closely. As I passed Whiskey Creek gas station I noticed a larger semi truck with a long flat bed turning right on the highway heading West to Port Alberni. I noticed his arc was going to put him into my lane, I braked hard and pulled right on to the shoulder. Lucky thing as he was a good 5 foot into my lane. I was just about sandwiched. The big truck behind me must have caught what i was doing in time as he managed to stop as well.

I’m fortunate I was looking and reading ahead, or I think that would have been it for me, as i was in my small work truck and he was in a large freight truck.

My point is, large trucks have a larger turning radius and are some times forced into the opposing lanes. I know it is the driver of the semi truck’s responsibility to contain to the lane, or ensure no traffic is coming, but it is everyone’s responsibility to avoid a crash at all costs.


You note that one should "Enter the first available lane for your direction of traffic".  (what does that mean - lane without cars.....left hand lane...)

It has been suggested in the past that at the end of the turn, one should enter the left of any lanes (ie immediately to the right of the centre line).

I don't see either of those in the MVA section. It says "turn the vehicle to the left so that it leaves the intersection to the right of the marked centre line of the roadway being entered", but I don't see a specification regarding which lane one should be in (assuming no lane markings).as long as one is to the right of the line....

Am I missing something?


The lane to the right of the marked center line is the first available lane. To get to any lane to the right of that would require a lane change. To do it properly, one would need to turn into and occupy the lane closest to the center line and then perform a lane change sequence. This would hopefully prevent you from colliding with a driver on the opposite side of the intersection who is performing a right hand turn.

The difficulty with understanding some of this is the fact that after being written, they are interpreted by the courts and case law is established. The best source of the case law explaining various rules is the Annotated Motor Vehicle Act. This is available for public view during specified hours at your nearest courthouse library. If it is available on line, I am unaware of it.

You state that it is not illegal to change lanes at an intersection, just unwise. When turning left if I choose to   enter the right lane instead of the left and do so without crossing any line I  have not changed lanes either in the intersection or the lane. I am not saying this is a good driving habit, but if I was pulling a trailer this may be nessesary  to avoid cutting the corner short, and any oncoming traffic making a right turn should have to yield to a left turning vehicle. I am only trying to clarify that it is not the law that you must enter the left lane, is this correct.

Regardless of towing a trailer or not - there is NO good reason to do the above mentioned turn. i tow a trailer - both travel trailers and utility trailer through multiple multi lane left turns and have NEVER find it necessary to go into the "wrong" lane

If a driver has adequate knowledge of the vehicle it is quite easy to follow the recommended turn. The mistake I see drivers do at just about every left turn is cutting the corner - on a typical left turn onto a multi lane road drivers need to make a right angle turn - not a 45* then "clip the apex". There is one intersection I go through daily that even has yellow and white dotted lines through the intersection and drivers STILL cannot turn within the lines!

this also applies to right turns on to multiple lanes - stay closest to the curb - and yes i can even do THAT with a car and trailer combination that is 35' long