Consideration When Making A Right Hand Turn Onto An Intersecting Highway or State Route

Consideration When Making A Right Hand Turn Onto An Intersecting Highway or State Route

You are stopped at an intersection with another highway. Traffic traveling on the intersecting roadway has the right of way. It is controlled by a speed limit of 65-mph. You want to make a right-hand turn onto the intersecting highway. What are your obligations to do so safely and without incident?

First, you are always required to drive defensively and be aware of your surroundings. Second, the right-hand turn should only be made when there is enough space to do so safely and without incident. There are so many variables that go into whether it is safe to make a right-hand turn. This blog will address making a right-hand turn when you can see a commercial motor vehicle approaching the intersection.

Let’s consider you are stopped, looking left and you see an approaching tractor trailer. It is positioned in the right-hand lane traveling 65-mph right at the speed limit. It is approximately 450 feet from the intersection, so you decide to begin turning right. What are some things you should consider before making this decision?

Someone might say the tractor trailer is more than a football field away, so you can make the turn safely.  My response is possibly, but only if the truck driver is driving defensively and reacts appropriately. Certainly, the truck driver should have seen and realized you were present at the intersection and making a right-hand turn. The truck driver even before then should have been thinking about the possibility that you might enter the highway, even before you physically moved and began encroaching on the intersecting roadway. With that said, there are no guarantees the truck driver is driving defensively and/or paying attention.

Things to consider if you are faced with such a situation? The truck would need 1.6 seconds, or less, to perceive your vehicle as a potential problem and react to avoid a collision. Moving at 65-mph would equal 95 feet per second, so during the 1.6 seconds of perception/reaction time, the tractor trailer would have moved at least 150 feet. If the truck driver were driving defensively and began to apply the vehicle’s brakes, he would need a braking distance of 325 feet to stop. Adding the perception and reaction distance to the required braking distance gives a total stopping distance of 475 feet. So, if the tractor trailer was 450 feet from the area where you turned right, the vehicle should be able to slow and/or stop without incident given your vehicle would already be moving away from the truck after turning right (specifically, at least 100 feet). The total available distance for the truck to stop would be more than 500 feet. So, if the stars are all aligned, the tractor trailer could stay in its lane and either slow or stop prior to hitting your vehicle.

With that said, not all circumstances are perfect. What if you have a distracted truck driver? What if the truck driver is an aggressive driver? What if the truck has mechanical issues? Well, if the truck stays in the right-hand lane it likely will not stop in time before crashing into the rear end of your vehicle. Maybe the truck driver goes right, crashes his vehicle and he is injured. Maybe the truck driver swerves into the left-hand lane and causes a crash and/or incident with another vehicle positioned directly alongside it.

So, the moral of this blog is, make sure you have the necessary space to turn right onto an intersecting highway so as to not cause and/or encounter any unnecessary crashes and/or incidents. You have to take into account that not all truck drivers are operating their vehicles defensively and/or paying proper attention. You also have to consider it will take time for your vehicle to accelerate up to highway speed after making a right-hand turn from a stopped position.

If you or a loved one are involved in a crash involving any kind of vehicle, including one with a commercial motor vehicle while making a right-hand turn, please call an experienced trucking attorney at Bordas & Bordas to discuss and investigate your crash.


Chris McCabe explains the proper steps to take when making a right hand turn onto an intersecting highway or state route.