By Jeremy Rochow
Last updated on: April 14, 2021 at 9:40 am
If you’ve seen a fellow driver doing a U-turn on a green arrow at an intersection, you might’ve wondered if the move is legal here in South Australia.
Well, the answer is yes… and no.
If there’s a sign at an intersection with traffic lights stating a U-turn is permitted then, yes, you can perform this manoeuvre at this location. If there’s no sign, then doing a U-turn here could be costly. If caught, you risk a $389 fine, plus a $90 Victims of Crime Levy and 2 demerit points.
While most SA drivers understand this rule, there are still an alarming number who don’t.
In 2020, 607 people were fined for illegally doing a uey at the traffic lights, and another 956 were cautioned.
If you’re thinking about performing a U-turn at the traffic lights when there isn’t a sign permitting the manoeuvre – don’t. Instead, drive further down the road and find a safe location to turn around.
But this isn’t the only U-turn blunder drivers make. Last year more than 500 people were caught disobeying no U-turn signs. These are placed at locations where people attempting to perform U-turns pose a danger to either following or approaching traffic, or in some cases, both.
With that in mind, we’ve listed 5 U-turn dos and don’ts that’ll help you make the right decision the next time you need to quickly change direction.
1. Location, location, location
Finding the correct spot to make a U-turn is vital to avoid endangering other road users and pedestrians. It’s not often you can pull a U-turn as soon as you realise you need to turn around, so here are a few things to think about when seeking the safest spot to do so.
The best locations are those that don’t disrupt traffic flow, both following and oncoming, so find a right-turn lane opposite a quiet street if you can.
You’ll also want to make sure the place you choose to do a U-turn gives you a clear view of oncoming traffic so you can turn around safely.
When you do find a safe place, start your U-turn from the marked lane nearest, or as near as practicable to the road’s dividing line or median strip, or as close as practicable to the centre of the road.
2. Know your vehicle
Make sure the road is wide enough for you to turn around in one go. You don’t want to be caught having to reverse and attempt again, in traffic.
On very busy roads, the safest and least stressful option may be to turn into a side street and do a 3-point turn away from the intersection, then turn left back onto the road. Alternatively, it may be easier to simply drive around the block particularly if your vehicle is large and/or you’re towing.
3. Read road signs
When choosing where to make a U-turn, look for any road signs that might impact your decision.
For example, drive along North Tce in the CBD, and you’ll see a set of traffic lights in front of the Adelaide Convention Centre with a sign saying, U-turn permitted. Here, you can make a U-turn when there’s a green arrow.
Also, look out for no U-turn signs. If there’s a no U-turn sign at the break in a dividing strip or a separate right turn lane, you’ll have to find a different place to chuck a uey.
If you ignore a no U-turn sign, you face a $389 fine, a $90 Victims of Crime Levy and 2 demerit points.
4. Look at line markings
The lines painted on the road will give you a good idea about whether you can or can’t do a U-turn.
Motorists aren’t allowed to perform a U-turn across a single continuous dividing line, a single continuous dividing line to the left of a broken line, 2 parallel continuous dividing lines or a painted median or island, unless there is a break in it.
Doing a U-turn on a road with a continuous dividing line could cost you $413 and a $90 Victims of Crime Levy. The offence also attracts 2 demerit points.
5. Give way to other vehicles
When completing a U-turn, remember you must give way to all oncoming traffic, including cyclists and pedestrians.
If you’re doing a U-turn at an intersection across from a street, you’ll also need to give way to any vehicles coming out of the street.
Failing to give way to vehicles or pedestrians while making a U-turn will set you back $413 plus a $90 Victims of Crime Levy. You’ll also receive 3 demerit points.