Turning Left on a Green Light & Your 1st

I thought I would continue to talk about the left turn because it has so many variables and is really dreaded by new drivers until they gain experience. Remember experience and confidence is gained by practicing but do not practice until your driving skills are ready to handle uncontrolled left turns on a green. When you are ready to practice left turns do not start at a major intersection start off at the little intersection turning left on green, when you feel comfortable at the little intersections move on and up to slightly larger intersections and then large intersections. It is very important that you work yourself up to large intersections because if you have a scare it may turn you completely off driving and set your driving abilities back in fear. It can take hours to build back up your lost confidence. Until you gain experience whoever is teaching you to drive should help you with judgment advising when you should turn and then teaching you how to judge. Parents it is important that a new driver have lots of time to turn because they usually hesitate when stepping on the accelerator and then drive slowly through the turn, and they should not rush until they are more proficient.

Some of my new drivers stop on a green light at the stop line or before the crosswalk on a green light on a left turn when they are the first vehicle turning, and this is a natural reaction but of course I teach them to enter the intersection. Experienced drivers forget what an unnatural and dangerous feeling it is to sit inside the intersection waiting to turn left on a green light. The new drivers mind is trying to take in the oncoming cars, cars all around them and the dangerous feeling of sitting in the middle of the intersection when they have not mastered judgment yet. This is when new drivers might forget to look clearly down their intended path which is the left turn path, where possible pedestrians might be crossing or cars may be blocking.

So you are first at a left turn on a green light with oncoming traffic. You should already know if the light is fresh (walking man) or stale (Hand). Walking man means the green light is not yet going to turn yellow & Hand means the green light may turn yellow at any moment. (Smaller pedestrian traffic lights may not always work this way)

-Enter the intersection 2-3 meters, position yourself to turn; (depending on size of the intersection & if there is cars turning in front of you. You do not want to impede with opposite left turning vehicles.

-Keep your wheels straight and stay right of the yellow line; (if rear ended you move straight & not into the path of oncoming vehicles);

-Continue checking your intended path of travel for pedestrians crossing the street or obstructions, while waiting for a large enough break in traffic to turn; (Parent help with judgment)

-Check your rear-view mirror and see what is happening behind you and around you; (Continue checking)

-If you have a large enough break in traffic, shoulder check left (for vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians passing you on the left) and turn left lane to left lane, cancel your signal light and look down your intended path and continue;

-If you do not have a break in traffic, when the light turns yellow, ensure traffic oncoming is stopped or stopping, and when safe turn left lane to left lane, cancel your signal light and look down your intended path and continue. (Be careful some oncoming drivers run that yellow light and you cannot turn until oncoming is stopping or stopped.) It is easy for a new driver to be nervous and hit the accelerator as soon as the light turns yellow do not do this, make sure the oncoming vehicles are stopping. Your parent should help you with judgment.

Drive safe Lana 🙂

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