U-Turns: Who Has The Right of Way?

For today’s Traffic Tuesday, we are going to touch on U-Turns and who has the right-of-way in these situations. As not only a police officer in a marked and unmarked vehicle, but as a person driving with his family in the car, I have been frustrated at times with the lack of knowledge about the right-of-way dealing with u-turns.

Let’s start with what the Florida state statute says:

U-Turns: Who Has The Right of Way?

316.1515 Limitations on turning around.—The driver of any vehicle shall not turn the vehicle so as to proceed in the opposite direction upon any street unless such movement can be made in safety and without interfering with other traffic and unless such movement is not prohibited by posted traffic control signs. 

What does this mean?  No one can turn their car in a u-turn fashion interfering with traffic unless such movement is not prohibited by posted traffic control signs.

If you are a driver on another roadway with a red light or a stop sign, you must yield to the person making the u-turn.  I have heard it at least a thousand times. “I stopped before making my right on red.”  That is true, but you have a traffic control device that you have to obey.  The person making the u-turn does not have a traffic control device and has the right of way.  This may be hard for some people to understand until they have to make a u-turn and expect the right of way.

In the diagram below, the driver with the red arrow has the right of way if he has a green arrow or light. The driver with the green arrow has to make sure it is clear from all directions before they can make the right on red legally. This is usually the case. Sometimes there are traffic signs saying that the driver making the u-turn has to yield to a vehicle making a right turn.

Next week we’ll have “The Dreaded Four Way Stop Sign Issue” for you. Until then, drive safe!!!

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REMINDER: If you have traffic concerns, you can submit them here: www.capecops.com/traffic. Your concern will be routed directly to the Traffic Unit for follow-up. Please be as detailed as possible to include things like days of week, times you are seeing the issue, or specific cars (if it is a particular vehicle with which you are having an issue).

About the Author:


Master Sergeant Patrick O’Grady is a 24 year veteran of law enforcement, assigned to the Office of the Chief of Police. He serves as a Public Affairs Officer for the Cape Coral Police Department and oversees the Public Affairs Office and the Planning and Research Unit.

Master Sergeant O’Grady has previously served as a Patrol Officer, Field Training Officer, DUI Officer, Drug Recognition Expert and a Traffic Homicide Investigator. He has also served as a supervisor in the Patrol Bureau over district officers and the Field Training and Evaluation Program. Master Sergeant O’Grady has served in the Special Operations Bureau as a supervisor of the Nighttime Traffic Unit and Major Crash Investigators. He is an instructor for the Cape Coral Police Department on several different topic areas and holds several certifications. Master Sergeant O’Grady holds a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice from Hodges University.

U-Turns: Who Has The Right of Way?