Road Rants: Florida’s U-turn laws

Traffic

If two drivers have the right-of-way, is one more right than the other?

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Kristen brings us this week’s Road Rants question.

She told me she moved to Florida from another state where U-turns were illegal, and asked for clarification on the rules in the Sunshine State.

She says that every day she drives east on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd in Tampa. At US-301 she turns southbound, using the dedicated right turn lane that’s controlled by a traffic signal. Kristen says that at the same time the right-turn arrow is green for eastbound MLK drivers, the intersection also displays a green arrow for drivers turning from northbound US-301 to westbound MLK. The intersection also allows drivers to make a U-turn from northbound 301 to southbound 301. Kristen wants to know which drivers have the right-of-way in this situation.

In Florida, U-turns are legal as long as there are no signs prohibiting them, and if you’re not interfering with other traffic. However, drivers making a U-turn should be the last person to make a move. That means if you plan to U-turn, you must yield to other drivers’ right of way. So, in this scenario, Kristen has the right-of-way. I’ll add that she has the right-of-way regardless as the intersection clearly displays a sign stating that drivers making a U-turn must yield to drivers turning right from MLK.

In any scenario, drivers making a U-turn should not block the road, which happened several times in the intersection while News Channel 8 was on scene. In one case, a large tractor-trailer made a three-point turn and blocked all lanes.

Finally, whether it’s a U-turn or a regular turn, it’s the law that drivers should maintain the lane they’re in when they enter an intersection. That means if you’re closest to the curb when you begin your turn you should be closest to the curb after completing the turn.

Thanks, Kristen, for your Road Rant. If you need clarification on Florida’s laws, have a gripe about what other drivers do, or are looking for information on road construction, contact me via email at mcensullo@wfla.com or through Facebook at WFLAMeredyth.

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