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Ask Dr. Delay: Don't violate right-of-way when making left turn

Therese Murray Ferrara of Palm Harbor wrote to the Doc regarding last week's column about stop bars at intersections and asked about them as they relate to left turns.

"Some motorists drive directly under the traffic light, stop, and then wait for oncoming traffic to clear, then they turn left," she said. "Several times I have waited behind the white stop bars for oncoming traffic to clear before making my left turn, only to have the automobile to my rear continuously honk in an effort to encourage me to move forward to wait under the traffic light. Who is correct?"

Florida Statute 316.151, which pertains to the required position and method of turning at intersections, states that the driver of a vehicle intending to turn left at an intersection is expected to approach the intersection in the extreme left-hand lane, and, after entering the intersection, the left turn should be made "so as to leave the intersection in a lane lawfully available to traffic moving in such direction upon the roadway being entered." This means not violating anyone's right-of-way by entering the intersection.

While the Doc isn't crazy about excessive horn-honking, the impulse is understandable. Folks who feel moved to honk in this sort of case may assume that a vehicle in the left-turn lane lingering at or stopped short of a stop bar is doing so because of driver distraction and unawareness that the light is green. At the same time, hesitating to enter a busy intersection is understandable, especially if there's plenty of oncoming traffic zooming through, but hanging out there in the middle and getting caught by a red light isn't what we want to do either.

And, of course, intentionally idling in the middle of an intersection until the light turns and oncoming traffic must stop is a foolish strategy — one that can get you broadsided or worse.

It's an inexact science, to be sure, especially if one is unfamiliar with the timing cycle of the lights at an intersection. So approach the intersection cautiously, survey the situation, wait for a break in traffic and once you enter the intersection, do so when you are certain you can move through quickly.

Barricade watch

Beach motorists should be alert to the possibility of periodic road closures on Gulf Boulevard in Indian Shores at 197th Avenue for the next month or so. The closures and detours will allow for the replacement of a sewer pump station. Give yourself some added travel time if you need to drive through the area.

E-mail Dr. Delay at to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity. Follow the Doc on Facebook by searching for Ask Dr. Delay.

Ask Dr. Delay: Don't violate right-of-way when making left turn 10/29/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 28, 2011 12:40pm]
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