U is for U turnsU turns can be seen as one of the most dangerous manoeuvres you can do, as you are cutting across all the lanes of traffic. Traffic around you will also not expect you to do a U turn. The Highway Code does not give much advice about U turns except mentioning it at mini roundabouts where it states “avoid making U turns at mini-roundabouts.”
However the Highway Code goes on to say “Beware of others doing this”.
If you need to turn around for any reason, it is far safer to find a side road and reverse around a corner or even do a turn in the road. If you do have to make a U turn, it is important to ascertain that there is enough room to do it safely, especially at traffic lights or junctions. Other road users may well be able to see that you are signalling right, but they may not be expecting you to do a U Turn, they will simply think you are turning right. Therefore it is vital that you take full observations and perform the U turn in a controlled way, continually watching and listening for the road user that you may have missed.
If you are making a U Turn from the side of the road you will have pulled over to the left in order to make full use of the available space. Remember any traffic around, either following or opposing, will probably think that you have simply pulled in to park on the left.
I can remember quite recently an event that happened to me. I was on the A57 travelling out ofLiverpool;the road at this point is a 4 lane single carriageway, i.e. 2 lanes in each direction. I was doing the maximum speed limit for that road, which was 30 mph, following a car in Lane 1. The car then signalled left and pulled in, I checked my mirrors and changed lanes in plenty of time, as I had plenty of space I did not need to slow down much at this point,and I justhad to ease off the gas.
Anyway, to my surprise the car that had signalled left and pulled in decided to perform a U Turn. I was forced to not only to brake but also swerve to the right in order to avoid the collision. Lucky for me I had plenty space and time around me to enable me to take this avoiding action, had I been driving a bit faster or a bit closer to the car in front I would have crashed into him. To this day I am not sure if the driver had actually seen me or not, but I do know that it could have been a lot worse.
Finally, let’s talk about taxi drivers. If you are following a taxi driver you must be aware that they may well want to make a U Turn in order to pick up a fare on the opposite side of the road. Alsohackney cabs have a very small turning circle, which means that the cab only needs a small space to perform a U turn, so they can physically make U Turns on roads that are too narrow for most cars to perform this manoeuvre. In fact Black cabs have a turning circle of only 25 feet.
Taxi drivers also do what is termed a ‘taxi turn’, this is simply a U Turn done in the mouth of a junction, again a challenging manoeuvre, especially if there are pedestrians around the junction.