Help me be safe in this driving situation! (USA Driving-Filter)
August 4, 2014 8:54 AM   Subscribe

This intersection with a turning lane is usually very busy causing gridlock, and I need advice to stay safe. Basically both driveways are offset from each other so people in the turning lane need to occupy an overlapping space. Diagram and further details inside!

This is a brief diagram I made of the situation. Basically, I am trying to get home, to A. My car is C. However, there is frequently a car D, turning left to get to B. Because of the off-set in roads, (A and B are two different apartment complexes) we can't use the turning lane normally. This is a pretty busy street with cars (E) potentially coming at anytime, and the top side of the diagram is slightly downhill. I can't tell if car F exists or not as I approach the situation.

What do I do? What I have been doing is this: but it feels dangerous because there could be oncoming traffic down the hill. I try to check from the turning lane, but I mostly just hurry. No close calls yet, but it FEELS dangerous.

One time I tried this: but it felt equally wrong because my car doesn't have a very good turning radius. I don't think I could pull off a u-turn from there.

I could always go somewhere (future parking lot) and turn around, but there actually isn't any good nearby place to do that. At the bottom of the hill is a very busy (and slow) intersection.

Here is an actual picture just for extra proof/information :)
posted by bbqturtle to Travel & Transportation around United States (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In case it wasn't clear, the bottom image is flipped, and I am the car beginning in the lane proceeding with the red line.
posted by bbqturtle at 8:56 AM on August 4, 2014

If Car F is there, pull into the turning lane such that you are facing Car F, but are far back enough to let them easily turn into their driveway. Once they are gone, pull ahead and perform your left turn. You may end up waiting a while if there are several Cars F, but it's the safe way to do it.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:05 AM on August 4, 2014 [11 favorites]

The only problem with that, is that usually D and F are both where I need to be, so by the time D moves, F is already in the way. And then when F turns, the next car behind them is in the way.

If your answer is unchanged, that's okay too!
posted by bbqturtle at 9:08 AM on August 4, 2014

Here's an out-of-the-box idea - what about petitioning the city (or property owner) to remove or redesign the traffic island that is blocking people from turning left earlier?
posted by muddgirl at 9:14 AM on August 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

That traffic island is owned by that apartment complex and has a large sign with the apartment complex's name on it... I'm not positive they'd be willing to give it up!
posted by bbqturtle at 9:17 AM on August 4, 2014

If you are in the lane too, you can sort of edge up a little as F starts to turn, and keep edging as the next F turns, so eventually you are close enough (or there are no oncoming cars) to make your own turn.
posted by jeather at 9:19 AM on August 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

This feels dangerous because wrong side of the road, and all that, but is probably your safest option. That is a terrible roadway design.

Personally, I would somehow re-do the route I come home on so that I was coming the opposite direction and could turn right into the entrance.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:28 AM on August 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

just hold back and wait for traffic to clear - when the light at w michigan turns red, there's always a break. Just think of it as having a turning light for your driveway.

If that's not good enough, you could always cut through the church parking lot - just don't go over 15MPH and I'm sure nobody would mind.
posted by rebent at 9:31 AM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

If there is a line of Cars F, you may be able to make eye contact with the drivers and someone should get the hint before they pull up and will let you go.

The other option I can think of is rather than turning around at the busy intersection, find an alternate route that takes you home for the right direction. This may not be possible, given the arrangement of roads and whatnot, but I usually take an alternate way when leaving/arriving home that costs me at least a minute or two to avoid a winding road where I've almost been killed twice.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:32 AM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

So just sit in the turning lane for a while longer? That makes sense.
posted by bbqturtle at 9:33 AM on August 4, 2014

I drive a big ass truck that has a not so great turnign radius. I also agree the situation, regardless of turning radius is not safe. If it were me, rather than make the left into my complex, if there was another left further down the road but not too far, I would make the left into there, turn around, make a right back onto the road from whence I came, and make a right into my apartment complex. It is much safer, easier than trying to get the town and or the apartment folks to make a change and may even be quicker than waiting to make the left. It obviously depends on how far past your entrance you have to go to turn around.
posted by 724A at 9:38 AM on August 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

I live in a city with pretty ridiculous traffic, and a lot of little poorly designed situations like this that grew organically over time. I take many alternate routes though neighborhoods that are off arterials but get me home faster. And I drive carefully through neighborhoods, following speed limits and watching for children and pets--I'm not that asshole doing 50 in a residential. Is there another way to get to A? It may be worth it, unless it's one of those planned suburban communities that are labyrinths with only one outlet. In which case, my condolences.

But yeah, I would lodge some kind of complaint or statement with the city. Others may have too. Your DOT is supposed to be making traffic more efficient and review these kind of complaints. What made sense 20 years ago, say, may not now.
posted by Lardmitten at 9:52 AM on August 4, 2014

How far would you have to go to reach an intersection when you can drop a U-turn and come back on the right side of the road? Might be worth taking the extra time to avoid the feeling of playing vehicular Russian Roulette.
posted by yoink at 11:00 AM on August 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

While we are on the subject of safety in turning lanes, this may seem basic, but I'm surprised at the number of drivers who don't follow this rule: While you are waiting in the turning lane, DO NOT have your wheel turned to the left, but keep it straight until you have clearance to make the turn. The reason you do this is if you are rear-ended while you are waiting and you already have your wheels turned, the collision will drive you into the oncoming traffic.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:14 PM on August 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

You are making a greater then 90 degree left hand turn across busy traffic without good visibility?
There is no way to make that really safe. You'd be much better off coming at it from the other direction and turning right to go home.

If you must do it, just be patient and sit in the chicken lane until things clear out, until the other car moves, then move up into position. Don't try any fancy manuvers.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:43 PM on August 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

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