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Left on red? Left turn woes? Understanding West Virginia’s left-turn laws

Left turns can be a nerve-wracking maneuver, especially at busy intersections. Navigating these turns smoothly and safely in West Virginia requires understanding the right-of-way rules. A misunderstanding can lead to accidents, frustration and finger-pointing.

So, who has the right of way when turning left in West Virginia?

Yielding the right of way: A core principle

West Virginia follows a right-of-way priority system at intersections. This means drivers must yield to vehicles that have the legal right to proceed first. Here’s how it applies to left turns:

  • Opposing traffic: When turning left at an intersection, you must yield the right of way to any oncoming vehicles within the intersection or so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
  • Turning left from a one-way street: If you’re turning left from a one-way street onto another one-way street, you generally have the right of way after yielding to pedestrians in a marked crosswalk.

Traffic signals can sometimes add confusion:

  • Green left turn arrow: A solid green left turn arrow generally indicates you have a designated time to make your left turn safely, assuming there’s no oncoming traffic.
  • Solid green light: A solid green light permits you to proceed through the intersection, but you still must yield to oncoming traffic that has the right of way, including those making left turns from the opposite direction.

These basic principles will help you navigate most traffic situations. However, there are times when special rules apply.

Left turn lanes and special rules

Left turn lanes are designated lanes specifically for vehicles turning left. When in a left turn lane, you generally have the right of way after yielding to oncoming traffic turning left from the opposite direction.

However, there can be additional signage or markings at specific intersections, so always be attentive to those.

Sharing the road and avoiding trouble

Understanding the right-of-way rules is crucial, but defensive driving is equally important. Here are some additional tips for safe left turns:

  • Use your turn signal: Alert other drivers of your intention to turn well in advance.
  • Double check for oncoming traffic: Don’t rely solely on the traffic light. Look for vehicles that might be turning left from the opposite direction or those that may have disregarded the signal.
  • Proceed with caution: Even when you have the right of way, proceed cautiously and be prepared to yield if necessary.

If you’re involved in a left-turn accident, understanding right-of-way laws can help determine fault. However, assigning blame in accidents can be complex and may include factors beyond right-of-way.

By understanding West Virginia’s left-turn laws and practicing safe driving habits, you can confidently navigate these maneuvers and minimize the risk of accidents. Remember, a little knowledge and a lot of caution can go a long way in keeping our roads safe.

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