The U-turn has become one of the more dangerous manoeuvres on the roads. Some drivers put their lives and those of others at risk when they make that move at the wrong place and time. Know when you can execute one, and how to do it correctly and safely.
The U-turn is one of the basics of driving. It looks like an easy move, but many drivers don’t do it properly and safely. Poor judgement and bad execution can transform the motion into a dangerous situation. Adopting common sense and a patient attitude can make all the difference.
SIGNAL YOUR INTENTION
If you intend to make a U-turn, ensure that you let the other drivers behind you know your intention. Once you have signalled, get into the turning lane quickly to avoid impeding the flow of traffic behind you, then slow down as you approach the turning point. If you change your mind about U-turning, don’t rashly dart out of the turning lane into traffic approaching from behind you. Signal your intention, apologise with a wave to the other cars behind you that are waiting to turn, and wait for a safe opportunity to filter into traffic.
ENSURE YOUR LANE IS CLEAR
Make sure there is no oncoming traffic on the opposite side, and that no other road user — such as a cyclist or pedestrian — is attempting to cross the road within your turning circle. Once you have determined that, then slowly ease into your intended lane. If you happen to drive a monster of a car or a large truck, judge that you have enough space to complete the turn. If not, you may find yourself needing to do a tricky three-point turn to get your vehicle in the clear!
KEEP TO YOUR LANE
For most normal-sized cars, there is definitely more than enough space to complete the U-turn while staying in the turning lane. Avoid veering your car out of the turning lane and onto the left lane to get a wider turning circle. This is a selfish — and dangerous! — habit some drivers have developed. The other cars zooming up from behind you in that left lane will have to take evasive action to avoid crashing into you because part of your car is occupying their lane.
KEEP CALM AND TURN SAFELY
When it is safe to proceed with the U-turn, accelerate lightly as you turn your steering wheel as far as it will go. Make the turn as comfortable as your steering allows, but don’t panic and step on the accelerator while forcing the steering wheel. You don’t want your car to jerk and spin out of control. If you have already judged a comfortable time to finish the U-turn, there’s really no rush. That said, don’t take your own sweet time either, just get into your lane quickly and get up to speed with the traffic flow.
AVOID DOING ILLEGAL U-TURNS
In Singapore, there is usually a U-turn sign to tell the driver that there is a legal U-turn opportunity ahead. Don’t attempt to do one if there isn’t a sign, as you may endanger other road users who are not expecting your move. If caught, you will be fined $100.