Can You Turn Left from a Straight Lane?

Hi fellas,
Heres another one for the traffic experts out there.

I'm wondering if you can turn left on a "straight" lane. Where there is a left turn-only lane prior to the intersection, can you make a left turn if you were in the green car per the paint diagram?

Case A - is the most usual scenario at these lights, straight lane has a green light, left turn usually on red. Is this allowed for the green car to turn left?
Case B - This doesn't happen at these lights but, if this WAS the situation, is this allowed?

Mandatory paint diagram here.
Photo of intersection from red car's perspective:
Google maps link:,151.0452072,104m/data=!3m1!1e3

Poll Options

  • 5
    Yes - Green car can make the green turn
  • 566
    No - You must be in the left turn lane with a green light for left turns
  • 7
    Yes - If only the red left arrow is not on. (Case B)
  • 4
    I have no clue.


  • Case A would not exist because there's a left slip lane before the traffic light, so there wouldn't be a separate left turn light?

    If there is though, that must mean you're allowed to turn left from the straight lane on green left arrow?

    • If there is a pedestrian operated signal in the slip lane, then yes, Case A does definitely exist.

      • But why would there be a left turn light at the main traffic light? If you want to turn left you'll take the slip lane. Pedestrian crossing isn't affected by someone turning left from the straight line and I don't think the people on the straight lane could even see another traffic light in the slip lane

        • Sorry, I was talking about the signal scenario in case A where you would have a red left arrow but a green straight/right.

          In which case, you still couldn’t turn left from the straight/right lane.

          • @jjjaar: Oh ok. Yeah no turn lights on the straight line and a slip lane on the left, I would definitely not turn left unless I was desperate and had also checked very thoroughly for any potential oncoming cars and cars that might turn in front of me on the slip lane and for any cops.

        • Pedestrian crossing isn't affected by someone turning left from the straight line and I don't think the people on the straight lane could even see another traffic light in the slip lane

          They are, in both Case A and B.

          Here is a diagram

          Here is this exact scenario in Victoria

          • @MnGQ: The second pedestrian crossing has nothing to do with the slip lane

            • @Quantumcat: Sure it does.

              In Case B the main road crossing could have a pedestrian on it, thus the slip has a green light or no light.

              • @MnGQ: The car that can't turn left on the straight lane is affected by the pedestrian on the road not the pedestrian crossing on the slip lane.

                • @Quantumcat: The pedestrian on the slip is why the light is red for those on the slip.

                  • @MnGQ: How does that affect the person in the straight lane then? They can turn left without going near a pedestrian on the slip lane.

                    • @Quantumcat: They may get to the main crossing quickly enough that they will get a green crossing signal still, despite it already being mid-phase.

                      • @MnGQ: Ok I think I get what you're saying now.

                        There is no left turn arrow on the straight lane as they never expect anyone would consider turning left.

                        The pedestrian light might allow pedestrians to cross the road parallel to the straight lane.

                        Since they don't expect anyone to turn left and there's no red turn light they won't have a red turn light to prevent the car in the straight lane from turning into a crossing pedestrian.

                        Which is obviously dangerous!

                        There's something a little similar near where I live, where you can turn right at traffic lights but there may be pedestrians crossing the road you turn into. But in this case there's a sign - Give Way To Pedestrians

                        • @Quantumcat:

                          But in this case there's a sign - Give Way To Pedestrians

                          On right turns, yes. But not on left.

                          Even then…

                          Someone not willing to wait 15 seconds for a red light to change at a slip is probably far too busy and important of a person to look for pedestrians crossing the road.

                        • @Quantumcat: This 'dangerous' approach is the standard way pedestrians cross parallal to the through traffic in Victoria. There is no left arrow, and left turner's give way to peds. I think in NSW and maybe other states they provide more protection to pedestrians by having a red left arrow when peds are crossing

                          • @dinna89:

                            I think in NSW and maybe other states they provide more protection to pedestrians by having a red left arrow when peds are crossing

                            They do this sometimes in Victoria too, about as frequently as NSW.

        • the left turn light at the main traffic light is also for the slip lane turning left

    • Road rules say that if there's a slip lane, you must use it when turning. I reckon turning left from the straight lane would mean you broke the rules (though I've seen plenty to it).

      The green arrow is for the slip lane, hence there are none on the other side of the intersection facing the through/right lanes. Positioning looks a little confusing though.

      So, there's 5 mins I won't get back.

    • Findon Road heading south onto Crittenden Rd, Adelaide, definately exists as a few non-observant drivers may have discovered to their cost.

  • The one yes vote is from my mis-click, it’s a no from me.

  • +13 votes

    i thought it was pretty common sense that green doesn't mean turn left whenever lol, nearly got hit by someone today bc of that..

  • Why is this even a question? if you're debating this you need to hand your license in.

    • What if they need water in the middle of the night

    • Sydney driver education is appalling, that’s why. I honestly am lost for words as to how bad people drive in this city and cannot understand why there appears to be such a large gap between driver sill in Sydney and other states.

    • People do this all the time at the intersection of Southbank Boulevard and City Road in Melbourne, the left turn slip has a long queue so people jump the queue from the through lane.

    • Because license tests focus on memorising answers and learning to park. Actual everyday driving knowledge isnt really covered in detail.

    • In WA: Road Traffic Code 2000 S21 2A

      (2A) A driver turning left at an intersection from a multi-lane road
      that has a slip lane shall approach and enter the intersection
      from within the slip lane, unless an obstruction prevents the
      driver from entering the intersection from within that slip lane.
      Points: 2 Modified Penalty: 2 PU

        • +10 votes

          Interesting, looks like they closed up that little anomaly.

          At least 20 years ago, yes.

          It was in the original ROAD TRAFFIC CODE 2000

          • @MnGQ: 2000 seems really recent for us old people. I usually only check up on the road legislation for changes every 25 years.

      • Good find, but terrible drafting.
        It makes use of the slip lane mandatory, but does not actually prohibit the OP's scenario…

        • Looking at the actual intersection in question, it looks like the only time there would be a green dot (for straight ahead) but a red left-arrow would be if a pedestrian was crossing the slip lane, in which case turning left on the green dot (due to a obstructed slip-lane) wouldn't be an issue.

          The only other intersection design I can think of that this could be an issue at is where there lighted u-turn lane for the perpendicular road just prior to the intersection, like here

          • @Chandler: They are very unlikely to allow the pedestrian signals on the slip lane to be red to traffic at the same time as the through movements are allowed. I say this as a professional in the field. Not impossible, but very unlikely

            Edit: one scenario where this could potentially happen is if there is a level crossing to the left, and the booms are down. In this case you would hold left turns but may allow through movements

        • does not actually prohibit the OP's scenario

          Maybe the government needs to install boom gates. Obviously technology has prevented a lot of people doing wrong things, this is a new creative way.

      • What? 2x different kinds of Points + Penalty Units? Oy! (Try rewarding Great Driving, instead!)

        Harsh place WA… They wouldn't let us take a form home to get details (needed from the vehicle) to fill-out the form.

        (One of us was in Adelaide,
        later, & had no problems getting a WA form. 'dunno about WA DOT…
        What wrong could we possibly do being "in possession of such a form," ie, -away- from the DOT office?)

  • +1 vote

    Can You Turn Left from a Straight Lane?

    Physically, it’ll depend on your car’s turning circle at some tight intersection.

    In the context of road rules, I voted, No.

    I also agree with the comment from brandogs

  • Australian Road Rule 28 1A relates to this:

    (1A) A driver turning left at an intersection from a multi-lane road that has a slip lane must approach and enter the intersection—
    (a) from within the slip lane, or
    (b) if there is an obstruction that prevents the driver from entering the intersection from within the slip lane—from within the left lane.
    Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.

  • +4 votes

    Get off the road OP.

  • If there is a slip lane as indicated, then there would never be a Case B - there will ALWAYS be a lit arrow for the slip lane. So your third poll option is actually invalid.

    In contrast, if it was a right turn lane/combo lane then you might encounter Case B - i.e. "you can cross oncoming lanes when safe, if there is no red arrow".

    • " there will ALWAYS be a lit arrow for the slip lane."

      Again. Findon Rd onto Crittenden Rd, S.A. The turn light for the slip lane is sometimes not in use during off-peak traffic.

      • I looked it up. There is no turn arrow signals. Your example doesn't match the paint diagram from the OP.

        Seems I should clarify my statement - if there is a LH slip lane with an arrow light, the arrow will always be lit i.e. you are never expected to look over your right shoulder into your blind spot.

        In your example, an arrow would not be needed as the LH turn is sharp enough to ensure turning traffic can still see oncoming traffic - and the slip lane isn't restricted by the other 'go straight/right turn' lights.

        • Try going from Findon to Crittenden as I described, on the right hand side of your clip southeast of the white van. As you drive that way, turning left instead of continuing past the Liberty servo, there is an arrow on the left slip-lane than can and does turn red, as is often the norm in South Australia when the intersection also allows those cyclists without wheels - some latin "p" word" - a modicum of safety. I imagine they are only used when things have been a bit "squashy" there in the past. It isn't alway lit, unlike some of the zombie [@ 2:00 am] red right-turn arrows .

  • Does red car have broken lines as in give way. I can't make out the pic

  • The only scenario where a vehicle might turn left from the straight line in this case is if the slip lane is completely blocked, like an accident took place there and a police officer directed you to turn left from the straight lane etc.

  • Just because there's no sign saying you cant, it doesn't mean it makes it legal.
    For example, to do a U-Turn, in some if not all states?, there must be a U-turn permitted sign to make it legal.

  • "traffic experts"
    mate, my 5 year old would know not to turn left on the "straight lane", and they don't even exist yet.

  • I honestly cant believe this question even exists for an intersection like that

    Left slip lane is for left turn, Middle lane is straight only, and Right lane is straight and right turn.

    • I honestly cant believe this question even exists for an intersection like that

      While I agree with you, sometimes people pull this kinda sheet and then you start to question yourself even though you're pretty sure it's a dumb question

  • Its scary that we share the road with people who ask some of these questions asked on this forum…

  • missed a poll option
    no - although u can turn left on the right land, by turning right, doing a u turn, then continue by turning right into the the lane you want to go

    • there a roundabout on the next intersection down the hill, or he can continue for 2 intersections and make a left @ noble avenue and then a right shellcote and right @ hume highway ends up same place

  • How can you possibly think you can

  • How about Melbourne and a few intersections that are.. turn right from the left lane. They are fun lol.

  • Can you turn left from the straight lane? Of course you can. Is it legal? Probably not

  • The only instance where it would be allowed is if the slip lane has been blocked for any reason (roadworks, accident etc).

  • You know what pisses me off even more than this. It is when drivers stop in the slip lane and wait for the green light on the straight lane to turn despite the slip lane itself doesn't have any light. ROAR!

  • I've seen people do that when they realised they missed the turn or when the queue is too long.

  • You should ALWAYS use the left turn lane/ spillway.
    That is THE LAW unless more than 1 lane is indicated as a turn left lane (but not in this case)
    Both the traffic guidance on the median strip and white paint markings on the road at the intersection indicate that the middle lane goes straight and the left lane turns left.
    However the lack or arrows in both lanes and the two traffic lights with left turn arrows make this intersection very confusing.

  • Good troll post

  • There should be a left+straight arrow for a lane that allows left turn or go straight.

  • You can only make a left turn like that if you are driving a semi-trailer ;)

  • Road rules apply in Bankstown?

  • ive seen this possible but not at an intersection but more so a round about

  • Even if you didn't know the law how does common sense not tell you that's what the slip lane is for? Do you think the time and money put in to build it is just to make busy work for road workers?

    • +1 vote

      "Another failure of common sense is that we like to believe the world is ordered."

      • You think what you see around you came to be without any order?

        Road rules ARE a form of order.

    • what the slip lane is for?

      You can give people tools but if they choose to dig with their bare hands.

  • Sounds like a good way to cause a traffic accident. I don't think many drivers would anticipate a left hand turn at the lights after the slip lane. You hitting the brakes to turn left causes everyone else to hit the brakes and all of a sudden there is congestion just because you don't understand how intersections work.

  • Of course you can't; the lines painted into the intersection are your clue (if you forgot the road rules). From the left lane, they go straight.

  • I want to know what the pope thinks of this.

  • Absolutely not

  • If there is an indication that you're restricted to going straight (eg. straight arrows on the ground or no left turn sign) for the lane you're calling the straight lane, then the answer is no, they can't legally turn from that lane.

    From a combination of your photo and the google maps, there doesn't seem to be any indication that prevents left turning in your so called straight lane.

    So, yes they can turn left from what you call the straight lane. HOWEVER, they must give way to the traffic turning from the left turning lane. Fromt he look of the poll, most don't understand how slip lanes work, so it's not the smartest idea and may cause an accident where the car that wasn't in the slip lane would be at fault, but it's legal.

    • No, if you're in the straight lane, you need to go straight. If you want to turn left, then be in the left turning lane.

      • Apart from the OP's own misunderstanding of the road rules, where do you think it is indicated that it's a must go straight from that lane?

        • For turning left, there are arrows on the ground indicating that lane will turn left.
          For going straight, there are no arrows pointing straight, it is implicit. If they needed to draw lines to indicate that you should be going straight, they would be drawing lines all over the road. In OP's Mandatory paint diagram, there is one lane for turning left with a left arrow and two lanes going straight without arrows drawn on the road. If you don't accept the two lanes without arrows painted on them are for going straight only, then all three lanes could turn left just because there isn't an arrow pointing straight ahead. Which would be crazy, right?

          • @S2: I'm not saying it shouldn't work the way you believe it is. What you're saying makes perfect logical sense, especially from a safety perspective. Legally speaking, it isn't.

            • @TheBird:

              Legally speaking, it isn't.

              I'm not certain you mean it's legal or illegal to turn left from the "straight" lane.
              If the former, our fellow OzB member, sixplusseven, has provided references in this forum post to prove it actually is illegal in SA and NSW.