Turning Left into a Multi Lane Road

Hi all

I'm just trying to understand why people don't wait until they get at least 2 lanes clear on a multi lane road before entering it to turn left.
For clarity, I believe that you should not enter a multi lane road if there is another vehicle in the second lane even if the lane that you're wanting to enter is clear.
Is this not the case?"

I blew my horn this morning at someone who did this and the guy got very offended signalling me to pull over. I ignored that and then he tried to cut me off and was being a jerk overall.
I decided to just pull over and wait 5 mins before resuming my journey to avoid road rage but it got me thinking on why he behaved in the manner. Maybe he didn't know the rule or maybe I'm not clear on it as I've encountered this many times before as well even when people are entring from a slip road.

Here's the obligatory MS Paint diagram:


  • +6

    need ms paint

    • +4

      Here you go mate. https://files.ozbargain.com.au/upload/18071/66763/msp.png You've made me realise how bad I am with it.

      • +1

        You forgot to draw in the smaller lane.

        • The first lane is meant to be clear in this case.

          • +1

            @deveshwar0: Are you just turning in from the nature strip/footpath?
            Why is there no lane for cars going the other way?

            Very confusing diagram

            • +2

              @Hirolol: you might just be a confused person. I found it easy to understand.

              There may be a multi lane road coming the other way, but no point drawing this

              • +7

                @wozz: Is it to scale?

                Why are there no trees?

    • Thanks mate.
      I've read through the link and there doesn't seem to be a consensus there as well?

      • I was driving on a similar two lane yesterday, and there was a police car parked near by, looking at the intersection. A car entered into the left lane pretty the same time I passed the intersection, the cop didn't move a muscle. It felt dangerous to me, but I guess it's not an issue law wise. I live in VIC.

      • +3

        If the lane is tight then you should wait. Most multi lanes are wide though and shouldnt need the second car to be affected.

        However, I believe it has a lot to do with how the person comes out of the lane as well. If they started wide and turned in, it wouldnt cause an issue. But if they started close and swing wide thats a no no.

        • And then there's the idiot in the far right lane, behind the first car, that upon realizing that the car in front is slowing down, suddenly changes lane, and now T-Bones the car coming out of the side-lane.

  • +18

    It's actually in the learner's book that you need to leave 2 lanes free before entering a road. It's probably written in law as well if I can be bothered to look for it.

    • +10

      Two lanes free. Law aside, common sense.

      1. People going straight can change lanes. They can change a few lanes but that's a different problem.

      2. Turning circle.

      • +30

        But just because it’s common sense, does not make it legislation.

        OP had no right to sound their horn unless the other driver entered OP’s lane. There is no legislation that says the other car has to wait for OP to pass… but there is a law about sounding your horn and when you can and can’t do it. (Aust Road Rule 224.)

        • +6

          You're forgetting Space Corp Directive 5799

          • +3

            @imurgod: Space Corp Directive 5799 : No officer above the rank of Mess Sergeant is permitted to go into combat with pierced nipples.

        1. Then they should use the indicator. Do you similarly never drive next to someone in case they ignore other traffic and blindly change lane?

        2. If your turning circle keeps you within the lane, what's the issue?

        I have no idea what the law says, just addressing your "common sense" claim.

        • +2
          1. If they indicate whilst you've initiated your turn, who do you think can get in the lane first and who has right of way?

          2. And what if it doesn't?

          I guess it's not so common after all.

          • @DisabledUser88699:

            1. Who can get in the lane first? If they've already initiated their turn then they're already in the lane and, in my mind, therefore have right of way. As I said, I have no idea what the law says and, to be honest, couldn't care less.

            2. If you don't know how wide your turning circle is then you shouldn't be on the road…

            Indeed, common sense clearly isn't very common. As someone else said before, if we all followed your advice then it would be literally impossible to turn onto main roads during rush hour. Not to mention motorway slip roads…

            • @callum9999: No… You're wrong. Couldn't care less causes accidents.

              It is in the learner book that it must be two clear lanes before entering…. I don't know how long but I guess the 3 second rule.

  • +4

    I leave at least two lanes free, but sometimes more, especially if they’re narrow.

    I was once in the second lane. Someone turned from a side road into the first lane, but over shot it and went into the second lane, my lane. Thankfully there was a third lane and I anticipated this happening and avoided any accident. But just don’t risk it. Be patient.

  • +9

    There is always a chance the other car could change lanes at the same time.

    • +1

      Only a problem if the through vehicle fails to indicate a lane change.
      There are plenty of potential Kamikazes on the road though.

    • In that position, personally I would never change lanes into the path of someone at a giveaway or stop. Same reason why you don't change lanes while going through traffic lights - there's usually a give way on the other side. My view is that if your lane is free and no one is indicating their intention to use the lane you are set to enter the road on it is fine. I agree it's possibly more risky, wouldn't do this when I'm on my bike say..

    • People should indicate, and they should avoid changing lanes at those points, but in the case of a collision you are screwed either way because you are most likely behind a STOP or Give Way sign at the intersection.

  • +5

    The NSW road rules state that "Generally if you’re turning across another vehicle’s path, you must give way." RMS.

    This creates something of a grey area in your case. You could argue that so long as the vehicle entering the road is not crossing "your" path they are clear to do what they have done. On the other hand, if they have "impeded" your progress in any way you could argue they have not given way.

    As ever, in these edge cases it comes down to the very specific circumstances applicable.

      • +9

        You must have a really massive car or tiny lanes, I manage it every day with 30-100cm spare in a Ford Festiva. But we have generous shoulders on most roads so that probably makes the difference.

        • +3

          Or really poor driving skills.

      • +10

        How you position your car prior to and while entering the road can make a difference.

        • True. Maybe I'm also just used to roads with really narrow lanes.

        • I think this is a big part. 90 degree turns need two lanes. Wide, smooth angled turns allow you to make it in one. I tend to wait for two lanes to be clear unless the turn gives you a lot of space

          • @Waffles: In these situations you move as right as you can before turning left to give a better angle. People don't seem to do this and then overshoot into the 2nd lane…

  • +2

    but it got me thinking on why he behaved in the manner

    Sounds like he's suffering from SDS.

    • +3

      Lol. Made me look this up. I was like what has this got to do with a safety data sheet. Found the real meaning at urban dictionary.

  • go and nail it

  • +36

    In SA, it's never occurred to me to wait for the left two lanes to clear in this case (unless the vehicle in the second lane is indicating intention to move into the first lane).

    I don't see any logic in it, nor do I believe it is required by law.

    • +2

      If a car, travelling straight, [legally] merges into the lane that you're trying to turn into and you collide, then you will be at fault. I know someone who wrote off a car that way.

      That said, I don't wait for two lanes to be clear, and I get annoyed at people who do - holding up a line of traffic who are trying to turn.

    • +3

      You don't get the logic?

      It is pretty unsafe in my opinion. You look right, no car in the immediate lane but a car in the next lane.

      You then look left as you start to pull out, at the same time the car in the other lane goes to merge lanes and now has to swerve back.

      It's pretty logical.

      Everyone should do their best to avoid an accident and if waiting 5 seconds for a car to pass will 100% rule out the possibility of a collision then I would wait the 5 seconds.

      Also from the other drivers point of view, sometimes cars turning look like they are coming out further than they are and you may brake out of instinct.

      • +1

        If I had identified a car coming from my right with nothing to my left, I'd be focusing on that car - not staring into empty space to the left.

        The only thing you'd need to watch out for on your left are pedestrians, and they should be pretty easy to spot and to stop for (if they were stupid enough to suddenly run infront of two moving cars) considering you'd barely be moving at that point.

        • +1

          Or in my brother's case, a phantom ambulance with no lights or siren, travelling the wrong direction up a service lane and claiming to not be at fault. Attitude along the lines of we own the road and always have right of way.

          Looked both ways, right-left-right, pulled out, bang.

  • +31

    The answers about giving way don't really address the issue.
    If the lane you are turning into is clear, and you do not obstruct or interfere with any vehicle in the second lane, why would you wait?
    On the other hand, if you cannot turn into the left hand lane without obstructing the second land and that would interfere with oncoming traffic - you have to wait.
    I don't drive a truck, so I seldom have a problem turning into the left-hand lane.

    • +3

      I think the reasoning is, as others have said, that the left lane may be clear but someone in the middle lane may be about to pull into that lane because they want to turn off soon or simply because it's clear.
      If the car in the centre lane does merge you might not see them and have pulled out in-front of a lane that is no longer free. They would have right of way to change lanes at the speed limit without assuming someone would pull out in front of them at slow speed.

      • -1

        Only a retard would cross the lane dividers into a lane where another vehicle is pulling out

  • +12

    In contrast, you get the drivers in regular-sized vehicles who, when turning left, swings out wide into the next lane before turning because they think they're driving a truck!

    • +1

      This makes me go crazy when people do this on a 70 km/h road every single day near me

  • +35

    I blew my horn this morning at someone who did this

    Did they enter your lane at all?

    If the answer is no, then you're in the wrong.

    • +3

      I got to that part of the post as well and just started laughing.

    • -11

      It was on an 80km/hr road.
      The other vehicle was a Ford Territory.
      I'm unsure whether he managed to stay within the lane he was entering but to me it felt that we would have collided if I had not braked.
      Reason enough?

      • +17

        I'm unsure whether he managed to stay within the lane.

        They either entered your lane or didn't…….

      • How can you not know if they entered your lane or not when they were right in front of you? It sounds like you saw the car, panicked, and hit the brakes without actually paying full attention to the road and the other vehicles on it. It would be extremely obvious if a car the size of a Ford territory encroached into your lane.

        If this was a plain two lane road with no bike lane and no areas for parked cars along the side, then a car that size could have problems turning left without encroaching, but with extra space it would be extremely easy.

        • +7

          Mate, I did say that to me it did look like we would have collided. This was more a case of instant reflexes similar to you noticing a pedestrian on the curb and they start to move onto the road but then stop. Can you be sure they put a foot on the road and not retracted it midway? You'd rather brake instinctively, no?
          I saw the car waiting to enter the road, and then it suddenly moved right when I was about to cross it. I did not wait to see whether it would encroach on my lane and collide or remain in its intended lane, I braked instinctively.

          • -2

            @deveshwar0: So the possibility that he “might have encroached” was enough to warrant slamming on the horn? I hope you equally slam on the horn any time someone in an adjacent line might possibly encroach into yours. The easiest thing to do would be to short the horn switch so it’s blasting permanently; saves you the hassle.

            • @Strahany: You're again missing the point.
              This was not at a busy time when there was lot of traffic. All he would have to do is wait 2 secs and he would have had a clear road for the next minute or so.
              I sounded the horn similar to when I would if a car starts to move towards me from an adjacent lane to alert the driver of my presence. I never said anything about slamming on the horn (As in I was blowing the horn for an extended period).
              I gather that you would rather wait and collide.

              • +2

                @deveshwar0: The offending driver may have been confident they were clear of you during the manoeuvre.
                They may have been right or simply arrogant, we really needed to be there.
                I'm in Brisbane and we have many left turn feeds that encourage just the thing you object to.
                You maybe overreacted to the possibility of collision?
                If you didn't need to deviate from your course that's probably the case.
                A foot off the gas and a readiness to deviate right slightly would have probably been my response unless I perceived the turning vehicle was about to cross my bow.
                The alarm sounding probably served no purpose other than to distract the other driver at the time.
                If they were in the middle of a legal safe turn I can understand why they would be upset.
                (no danger but they got a frightener anyway)

            • +3

              @Strahany: Actually I kind of agree with Deveshwar0 here - it could be that mashing the horn is what caused the other driver to stay in their lane, much like doing so might cause a pedestrian who's about to step in front of your car to stop too.

      • +4

        agree with OP. I dont recall the learners guide but remember the words of my instructor back then saying you should wait till both lanes are clear. the risk is if the other driver switches to left lane when the you turning left. cant say i have followed this all the time but i try to..

        • Your right on

  • +2

    Interestingly the Victorian Road Rules do not seem to address this question.
    Personally I can't see why you can't turn left into an "idle" left lane of a multilane carriageway.

  • -1

    What I want to know OP, is why were you travelling in the middle lane and not keeping left? There is legislation for that…

    • +9

      On a multi-lane road, it's only necessary to keep to the left if the speed limit is above 80 km/h, or a "keep left unless overtaking" sign applies (Section 130 of Australian Road Rules).

    • I was not in the middle lane but the right lane. There were only 2 lanes. I was turning right in about 200 meters.

        • +2

          There isn't "more to it". Immediately prior to clause 130(2), which you quoted, clause 130(1) states that the clause only applies if "the speed limit applying to the driver for the length of road where the driver is driving is over 80 kilometres per hour". Thus everything is 130(2) is irrelevant if the speed limit is not above 80 km/h.

      • +1

        Did the offender also turn right in 200 metres, as that would be a fast manoeuvre for him to do in front of you (enter road and immediately cross to right lane)?
        You said "guy got very offended signalling me to pull over. I ignored that and then he tried to cut me off and was being a jerk overall." which is a lot to do in the 10 or so seconds you were travelling together (unless he also turned right and the "road rage" continued on the next street)?

        • He did cut in front of me, noticed that I had indicated to turn right, cut me off again and followed my intended route gesturing for me to pull over. At the same time another car came from the opposite direction turning left into the road that I was turning in which resulted in a car getting between us. I took the opportunity to create more distance between us and then turned into another street to get away from him.

  • +6

    I don't know what the law says, but I just use common sense and consider what's reasonable.

    Considering that it is perfectly okay to enter the highway when the left lane is clear, I don't see why the other car is in the wrong unless part of that car entered your lane.

    One would normally anticipate that you stay in your lane unless you have already indicated left to change lane.
    Otherwise, we would never be able to enter a main road during peak hours following this logic.

  • +8

    There’s no specific legislation regarding this, in any state, as far as I’m aware.

    As for what the OP did, unless this turning vehicle encroached into OP’s lane, then OP is 100% in the wrong. If someone turning into an adjacent lane worries someone so much that they need to blast the horn, then you really need to reassess your anxiousness on the roads, as it’s panicked reactions like this which are more dangerous, overall. I would suggest some defensive driving courses to get this under control.

    If the turning car encroached into OP’s lane and caused a collision/near collision, or forced the OP to swerve/brake, then they are absolutely justified in using their horn (although, not by letter of the law, I believe. Moreso on the standard of average use of horns). But, if the turning car didn’t do this, then it’s no different to driving past any other car which is wholly in their own lane.

    There’s no point saying they should wait because “well, what if they do encroach”, since any driver could swerve into your lane at any point in time, so if that’s too upsetting then you really shouldn’t be on the roads.

    And think about the practical implications of traffic flow; imagine how long you’d have to wait for two or more lanes to be free before joining a busy road. Plenty of spots around my area would have someone waiting in excess of five minutes for both lanes to be free at several turning points, due to having multiple popular feeding points upstream which would constantly “take the gap” before it reaches you.

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