Intersections and turning
Approximately half the road crashes in NSW happen at intersections. It is very important that you approach an intersection at a speed that lets you give way to any vehicles in or approaching the intersection.
It is an offence to get caught in the middle of the intersection when the lights change. You must stay on the approach side of the intersection until you see a space in your lane on the other side of the intersection that is big enough for your vehicle.
Give way rules where there are no signs
Some crossroads have no traffic lights or signs. Generally if you’re turning across another vehicle’s path, you must give way.
When turning at an intersection, you must give way to:
- Oncoming vehicles going straight ahead.
- Oncoming vehicles turning left.
- Any vehicle on your right.
If you and an oncoming vehicle are turning right at an intersection both cars should pass in front of each other.
If other drivers do not give way to you, do not force them or yourself into a dangerous situation.
You must also give way to any pedestrians at or near the intersection on the road you are entering.
Stop signs and stop lines
'STOP’ signs and ‘STOP’ lines (continuous line) are used at intersections to control traffic.
When you come to a STOP sign you must stop completely before reaching the STOP line, and as close as possible to the line. Where there is no STOP line, stop before reaching, and as close as possible, to the intersection.
A STOP sign or a STOP line means you must give way to all vehicles travelling in, entering or approaching the intersection, whether vehicles are turning left or right, or going straight ahead.
You must give way to any pedestrians crossing the road into which you are turning.
Giving way at a STOP sign means the driver must remain stationary until it is safe to proceed.
Give way signs and give way lines
‘GIVE WAY’ signs and ‘GIVE WAY’ lines (broken line) are used at intersections to control traffic. When you come to a GIVE WAY sign you must slow down and prepare to stop if necessary.
A GIVE WAY sign or line means you must give way to all vehicles travelling in, entering or approaching the intersection, whether vehicles are turning left or right, or going straight ahead. You must give way to any pedestrians crossing the road into which you are turning.
Giving way at a GIVE WAY sign means the driver must slow down and, if necessary, stop to avoid a collision.
This diagram shows a T intersection where the continuing road (which is marked with broken white lines) goes around a corner. Car B must signal to leave the continuing road and enter the terminating road.
You must indicate to let others know what you plan to do. Give plenty of warning by signalling before you turn left or right, or change lanes.
Make sure your indicator is turned off after each turn or lane change. If your indicators are not working, not clearly visible or your vehicle does not have indicator lights then you must give a hand signal when turning right or stopping.
Plan your turns early so that you are in the correct part of the road and have enough time to signal where you want to turn.
You must make a left turn from the left side of the road. When turning:
- Signal left
- Move close to the left side of the road
- Keep to the left side of the road you are entering
- Use a slip lane where one is provided.
When driving on a multi-lane road, you must turn left from the left lane, or from a lane with a pavement arrow pointing left.
When turning right:
- Signal right.
- Move as close to the centre line as possible.
- When turning on a multi-lane road, turn right from the right lane or a lane with an arrow pointing right. Turn right when it is safe.
- In marked lanes, you must stay in the same lane as you go from one road to another.
- You must give way to pedestrians crossing the road into which you are turning.
You need to think ahead in order to stay in the same lane as you drive from one road to another. The diagram shows a situation that calls for planning ahead.
Car A needs to turn left into the road marked X. It is best to turn right from the left lane to make it easy to turn left into road X.
When making a right turn through a divided road with a median strip, you must:
- Wait for a suitable gap in the oncoming traffic.
- Drive as far as you can into the central dividing part of the road and stop until
it is safe to continue.
- Make sure you obey all GIVE WAY or STOP signs or traffic lights
When turning right at traffic lights:
- Enter the intersection as shown in the diagram, unless a sign indicates otherwise
or there is a red right turn arrow displayed.
- Wait until oncoming traffic clears, or there is a break in the oncoming traffic, and then turn safely.
If the lights change to yellow or red while you are in the middle of the intersection, you are allowed to turn right. You must turn as soon as it is safe to do so. Be sure your front wheels and car are straight and not blocking the oncoming traffic.
When turning right into a one-way street you must:
- Turn as close as possible to the right side of the road you are entering.
When turning right from a one-way street you must:
- Turn from as close as possible to the right side of the road.
Take extra care when making U-turns as they can be dangerous. U-turns cannot be made:
- Where there is a NO U-TURN sign.
- On motorways.
- At traffic lights unless you see a U-TURN PERMITTED sign at the intersection.
- Across an unbroken (continuous) line, double centre unbroken (continuous) lines, unless the line closest to you is broken.
You must start your U-turn from the marked lane nearest to the centre of the road or, if there are no lane markings, the left of the centre of the road.
Before starting the U-turn you must make sure it is safe: check mirrors and blind spots and that you have a clear view of any approaching traffic.
You must not begin your U-turn unless you can make the turn without
unreasonably obstructing traffic. Give way to all vehicles and pedestrians and signal before you start to turn.
Three-point turns are used when a road is not wide enough to do a U-turn.
However, because it takes longer to do a three-point turn, in heavy traffic or on busy roads it is often safer to turn around by driving around the block instead.
Before commencing a three-point or U-turn, signal, check mirrors and blind spots.
After completing the turn, signal and check mirrors and blind spots, before rejoining the traffic.
See Roundabouts for information about roundabout signs, how to make turns, give way and signal correctly at a roundabout.