Ask a Trooper: Signal, and stay in your lane, when turningSignal, and stay in your lane, when turning
Sgt. Mark Baker
Minnesota State Patrol
Q: I learned 40+ years ago, and taught new drivers in more recent years, to always turn into the closest lane when entering a multi-lane street. Or, if entering from a second turn lane, to enter the corresponding lane on the new street (this usually applies to left turns). I am continually astounded by people who enter the farthest lane — often to only cross back to the one they were supposed to enter in the first place! (And let’s not talk about using a signal to do that!)
Is it illegal to turn into the correct lane, or just a matter of common sense and courtesy?
Occasionally it is necessary to turn wide because of a quick turn to be made, but most areas are designed to avoid that need.
In my view, busy intersections could clear faster if drivers could rely on others to do this correctly, allowing both left and right turners to enter the same street to go the same direction simultaneously.
What is the official position on this issue?
A: The statutes in Minnesota do not cover all the types of intersections we encounter as drivers. It merely covers proper left and right turns along with the positioning of our vehicles when making the turns. It does allow local authorities to place signs and markers at intersections that direct the course that a vehicle is to turn.
If you go back a few years ago to your drivers education training and the Minnesota drivers manual, it teaches us to turn from the closest lane to the closest lane. When we encounter multiple turn lanes onto another road with multiple driving lanes we must pay attention to the signs and the markings on the road. They will help direct you into the proper lanes.
In the Duluth area, if I were traveling northbound up Mesaba Avenue approaching the intersection of Central Entrance, there are two left turn lanes. If my car was positioned in the furthest left turn lane I would turn into the closest lane on Central Entrance, which would be the left lane. If I were in the second or right turn lane on Mesaba Avenue, I would need to turn into the far right lane of Central Entrance.
Remember that signaling is a requirement and not merely a suggestion. Driving is a social activity where we must communicate with other drivers. Improper turns cause many crashes. Pay attention to the signs and markings that are placed at intersections and you should be able to properly maneuver any turn.
Have a question you’d like to ask the State Patrol? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, fax it to 720-4120 or mail your question to Duluth News Tribune, Attn: Ask the State Trooper, 424 W. First St., Duluth, MN 55802. You may remain anonymous if you choose.