Making turns

Knowing the rules helps keep you safe

Knowing the rules helps keep you safe

Performing turns can be tricky, especially when driving in busy metropolitan cities like Melbourne. We have summarised
the most common types of turns and their rules for you.

Divided roads

If you are entering a road that is divided by a median strip, a 'Give Way' or 'Stop' sign applies for the whole intersection. This means if, for example, you are making a right hand turn into the road from a side street, you must also obey the signs on the road you are turning from when you stop in the median.

If there are no signs when entering the divided road, you must give way to all traffic when leaving the break in the median strip.

Filtered turns

Many signalised intersections in Victoria, particularly older installations, have traffic lights that do not have right turn arrows. When turning right at these locations this is known as a ‘filtered right turn’ as turning traffic filters through the oncoming traffic.

If the lights are green, you may turn right while giving way to any oncoming vehicle that is going straight. If the oncoming vehicle is turning left, you must also give way to it unless it is turning left at a slip lane. In particular, look out for oncoming motorcycles and bicycles as they can be harder to see and may come from between vehicles within their lanes. If the oncoming vehicle is turning right, you should not need to give way to each other as your paths should not cross, however take extra care if the oncoming vehicle is large or long.

In addition to giving way to oncoming vehicles, you must also give way to pedestrians that are crossing the road you are entering. This includes wheelchair users, children on bicycles and wheeled toys.

The road rules do not explicitly address how far into the intersection you should position your vehicle while giving way to oncoming traffic, but you should do so in a manner that does not obstruct or risk colliding with oncoming vehicles that are going straight or turning right. Also, if there are turn lines painted on the road, you must make the turn as indicated by the line.

If oncoming traffic is heavy and there are no safe gaps in which to make your turn, you may find that the light changes from green to yellow or red after you have entered the intersection but not yet completed your turn. In this case, the road rules require you to leave the intersection as soon as you can safely do so. In most cases, this means you will need to be sure that oncoming traffic will stop, and then complete your turn. However, if the lights have changed to yellow or red and you have not yet entered the intersection (even if you have passed the stop line), you must stop and not enter the intersection.

Finally, a number of newer signalised intersections have right turn arrows but do not always activate a green right turn arrow. In this case, keep watching the red arrow, which should drop out a few seconds after the straight through movement gets a green light. Once the red arrow is no longer showing and green light is showing, you can then make your right turn, giving way to oncoming traffic as described above.

Hook turns

A hook turn is a right turn from the left-hand lane. A hook turn is required to be made at most intersections in central Melbourne where trams operate.

These intersections are clearly marked, with a sign hanging overhead or on the side of the road. Some intersections (such as those in Clarendon Street) have flashing signs and line marking to help guide you, but most intersections will only have static signs. To make a hook turn, you must:

  1. Approach and enter the intersection from the far left side of the road you are leaving.
  2. If there is line marking, then follow the lines, otherwise move forward, keeping as far to the left of the intersection as possible and clear of any marked foot crossing, until you are at the far side of the intersection.
  3. Wait until the lights on the road you are entering turn green.
  4. Turn right into that road.

For more information see Victorian Road Safety Road Rules rules 33 to 36.

RACV advice on hook turns

Cycling and hook turns

Cyclists are also allowed to make hook turns at any intersection, unless signs specifically prohibit this.

We have produced a short video to explain how bike riders can safely make a hook turn.

Indicating in a dedicated turn lane

The rules require a driver to indicate when ‘changing direction’ to the left or right which includes turning left or right. A driver must continue indicating until they complete the change of direction.

Within the road rules, many diagrams clearly show drivers in a dedicated turn lane using their indicators.

Therefore a driver who is turning right, even in a dedicated turning lane, must indicate. The driver must continue to indicate while making the turn. They are then required to turn their indicator off as soon as the driver completes the turn.

For more information see Victorian Road Safety Road Rules rules 28, 29 and 32.

Turning into a multi-lane road

When turning into a multi-lane road, vehicles turning either left or right can move into any of the available lanes, unless there are road markings indicating exactly how the turn is to be made.

The diagrams to the right are from the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2017 and show the types of line markings and arrows that may be used to indicate which lane a driver must drive in.

Where these road markings are present, a driver may only travel in the lane and direction indicated.

For more information see Victorian Road Safety Road Rules rules 29 and 33.

Indicating in a dedicated turn lane

U-turns

Drivers making a u-turn are required to give way to all other vehicles and pedestrians.

In Victoria, drivers are allowed to perform u-turns at intersections with or without traffic signals and at breaks in the median unless there is a 'no u-turn' sign (as shown on the right) displayed at that location or applying to that length of road. A 'no right turn' sign also prohibits a u-turn.

In some other states in Australia, the opposite applies and you can only do a u-turn at these locations if signs permit it.

When making a u-turn not at an intersection or a median break, some types of line markings prohibit a driver from turning across the dividing line. For more information see the section line markings.                   

RACV advice on U-turns

A driver must not begin a u-turn unless they have a clear view of any approaching traffic and can safely make the u-turn without unreasonably obstructing the free movement of traffic.

The driver making the u-turn must give way to all vehicles and pedestrians. This includes giving way to vehicles turning left from slip lane or a side street even if they have a 'Give Way' or 'Stop' sign.

A ‘u-turn must give way’ sign is a reminder of the rules, and is not required at an intersection.

At an intersection with a median strip or dividing line, you must start the u-turn from the marked lane nearest, or as near as practical, the dividing line or median strip. In any other case, the u-turn must be started from the left of the centre of the road. 

The simple rule to remember is drivers performing u-turns are required to give way to all other vehicles and pedestrians. This includes giving way to vehicles turning left from a slip lane or a side street, even if they are facing a ‘Give Way’ or ‘Stop’ sign.                                      

For more information see Victorian Road Safety Road Rules rules 37 to 42.