8 Things to Remember about Turning Right on a Green Light

(Last Updated On: January 16, 2017)

Right Turns Video Demonstration


Thing #1: Know Who You Are Yielding To


  • In theory, when you are turning right on a green light, the only people you normally need to yield to are pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Of course, you may need to yield to someone else – such as a left-turning vehicle, if it has already turned and is subsequently in your way
  • However left turns are supposed to yield to right turns in this situation.


If you’re confused about the basic right-of-way rules, check out my eBook Intersections Illustrated: Stop Signs Edition.

Stop Signs eBook

Thing #2: Pay Attention To Your Vehicle Positioning


  • Whenever possible, try to move your vehicle closer to the curb before the right turn so that vehicles behind you can fit by in case you do stop for pedestrians.
  • Before you move over, use a right-mirror check and a right shoulder check to ensure there are no bikes or anything else that you would be potentially in conflict with.
  • If there are no pedestrians and any left-turning vehicle is clearly yielding, then simply turn.




 Thing #3: Watch For Pedestrians


If you see pedestrians, move forward into the intersection a bit in order to line up your vehicle with where you are about to turn.


There are two reasons for this:


  • it clearly tells the driver of any left-turning car that you are seriously getting ready to turn right and you are merely waiting for the pedestrians.
  • If you wait behind the white stopping line, the driver may think that you want him/her to go first, because it looks like you’re leaving an insanely large amount of space in front of you for no reason
  • Keep in mind, there should be no pedestrians walking on the perpendicular crosswalk; so it’s fine to block it; in fact you kind of have no choice in many cases
  • The other reason has to do with the traffic light.
  • If you move forward into the intersection, wait for slow or many pedestrians, and then the light goes yellow, then you’re still allowed – and you should – exit the intersection after the pedestrians, but before any left-turning vehicle.


Thing #4: More Details On Pedestrians


  • Give the pedestrians some extra time before you turn
  • You don’t have to necessarily wait until they’ve walked completely across the entire crosswalk
  • in certain intersections, that might mean waiting for them to walk past multiple lanes, which would be silly
  • Usually you should wait until they’re at least past the yellow line if they’re walking away from you, or until they actually step onto the sidewalk if they’re walking toward you
  • Do another quick shoulder check before you turn to make sure there are no more pedestrians about to walk








 Thing #5: That Oncoming Left-Turning Vehicle


  • Do keep an eye on the left-turning vehicle.
  • Left turns are supposed to be yielding to you, but sometimes they might not.
  • If it turns when it shouldn’t, then simply let it go first and go after it.


Thing #6: When There Are Multiple lanes


  • If there are two lanes, then avoid turning at the exact same time as the left-turning vehicle.
  • You need some extra space around your vehicle at all times and turning at the same time robs you of this safety cushion.
  • Try to time it so you turn before it or after it, but not simultaneously.





 Thing #7: Which lane should you turn into?


  • Legally when you turn right, you’re required to turn into the right lane;
  • and any left-turning vehicle is required to turn into the left lane.
  • However, if after you turn there are no vehicles in the other lane, you can quickly change your turn signal to a left signal and make sure it is safe and do a lane change into the left lane fairly quickly.
  • This is perfectly legal as long as
  1. you are not crossing a solid white line and
  2. it is safe (obviously) and 3) your left-turn signal is flashing.




Thing #8: When The Light Turns Yellow


*By the way, if you’re approaching the intersection for the right turn and the traffic light goes yellow, you are legally required to stop behind the white line and yield to others, unless it is not safe to stop. See Right Turns on Red Lights for more info.




Many moons ago, Carmen became an ICBC-approved driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, and has spent many years working with new and experienced drivers around the lower mainland. She can be found reading the Motor Vehicle Act for fun while receiving strange looks from others. May the quest for great driving continue!

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  • Bella

    Hey Carmen, when conditions allow me to turn right at an intersection but there’s a car coming across on the left lane, can I turn then, since I’ll be turning onto the right lane? Let’s assume the right lane I’m to turn into is not obstructed with parked vehicles.

    • Hey do you mean like an oncoming car is turning left at the same time you are turning right ?

  • Ben

    Hello, I just wanted to ask when to turn right or left if there’s a pedestrian and there’s a traffic median?Some say if pedestrian is crossing away from you, you can turn right when he/she passes the median or if pedestrian is crossing towards you, you can turn left he/she passes the median. I live in Toronto by the way. Please help and thank you.

    • Can you give me the name of the intersection at all or an example of one? Then I can use a picture of it, just to be sure I know what you mean.

  • Randy Buss

    Hi, I just watched and re-watched the demo video about making right turns. I failed my road test because I was stopping exactly as the vehicle depicted in the video. Got numerous “bad” marks for stop position under space margins. I was apparently too close to the crosswalk. The vehicle in the video seems to be also stopping with the front wheels just behind the line and about half the width of the crosswalk being obscured by the hood of the car. I can’t figure out why I failed by doing the same stops as the vehicle in this video. Am I missing something? BTW, thanks for all of your posts and driving tips and do’s and don’ts etc. Thank you!

    • Hey. Sorry to hear it. The front bumper should be behind the white line, no part of the vehicle should be in front of the white line whatsoever. This is so as not to encroach onto the space of pedestrians at all. The video isn’t that good because the camera used has a sort of wide angle or fish-eye effect in order to capture the most, so it is a bit deceiving. Hope that helps.

      • Randy Buss

        Yes,that does help. Thank you! I have a new car which as was said, all I can see is the road, wipers and the rear of the hood. As far as experience goes, I have driven for over 40 years, 32 of them driving commercial transport. All accident free and blah blah blah. I went to renew my DL and after letting it slide for just over 3 years and discovered I had to take a road test. ( I no longer need my class 1 or 6, so am only doing the class 5 thing ), I thought what? I haven’t had a road test since 1972 for a class 5 and 6 and 1980 for class 1. So me being me, I figured no sweat. Yeah well I guess I was rather over confident and forgot to mention I also committed a bit of a rolling stop or two, and relied on mirrors only instead of actual shoulder checks. Oops! No wonder I actually flunked.I have been reading a lot of BCDrivingBlogs and learned a lot of valuable 21’st century driving info. After I looked up how to decipher the road test report, I figured I had better keep reading up on the BCDrivingBlogs before I go and throw away another $50.00. 😉 Thanks again for the responses and advice!


        • haha Aww you’re not the only one. It’s so easy to get habits and especially after driving truck, yeah truck drivers don’t do shoulder checks! I must admit I would probably fail the road test too some days I drive I have some habits myself. The road test is a lot different now and yes the examiners are quite picky about all of these little details. Make sure for right turns you do 2 shoulder checks at times: do 1 if you’re changing the positioning of the car to move it closer to the curb from being beside the yellow line on a wide road/lane, and then do another one as the very last thing you do before turning)… They’re also picky about your hands on the wheel, there must always be 2 hands on there and you aren’t allowed to turn corners or do anything other than go backwards in a straight line with less than 2 hands on the wheel. Let me know if you have anymore questions 🙂

    • The other problem is for most cars when you are driving you can not see your front bumper. All you see is the road, or your wipers, or maybe part of your hood. So it’s a judgement/experience / training thing.

  • Kiwiz

    Hi Carmen, Thanks again for posting in your wonderful blog and replying to comments. I’m still a student driver and it’s frustrating for me that I can’t even turn the car properly when some teens are able to do so. I suck heavily turning both left and right. I have had 2 instructors so far the first one told me to keep to the right of the curb when turning right, however when I do this all the time I make wide turns to compensate not hitting the curb. Needless to say I ended up failing my road test because of my horrid turns also I am still slow o n turning (I thought they’d be more lenient about slow turns but I guess the proctor I had wasn’t letting me off). Now I got a new instructor and he says the main reason why I’m turning too wide and taking up space from the other lane is because I am driving too close to the curb. He says I should keep straight first (1m distance) and when I reach the corner of where I want to turn, then I should slightly turn the wheel to the right. I tried to do this but still ended up making a wide turn. Maybe it’s just me but for the life of me can’t turn properly! Do you have any advice to not make wide turns? Thanks

    • Hi first of all turning is SO hard to learn and to teach. It’s something experienced drivers ‘just do’ so it’s hard to explain it. I’m working on an answer that can make sense for you though.

      • Kiwiz

        Thank you so much for your kind words and for replying to me. I felt like it was just me who can’t turn even after how many hours of practice. people get frustrated at me for being a slow learner. I really want to be a safe driver and turn properly but it’s so hard for me without knowing the technicalities and knowing little tips here and there, I just am not one of those people who can “feel” how much to turn the wheel and when. I look forward to hearing from you again. Thx

        • This isn’t my answer but I’m wondering if watching this can help. It just shows roughly the amount that you need to turn the steering wheel. Some new drivers turn the wheel too much and then they have to “un-do” it which is so much extra work.


          • Kiwiz

            I feel more comfortable shuffling as well but my current instructor flicks my hand when I do this since he wants hand over hand method. yah I’ve noticed I’m turning the wheel too much when I do hand over hand but with shuffling I underdo it. I have no idea why I’m on both extreme polars I feel like my brain is opposite.

            • Hmm. Hand over hand is not illegal! I think it is good to know both methods. Steering is hard when you are new… just keep practicing. Let me know how it’s going.

        • Also this one Just for the steering. Not sure how you are doing with steering, as that can help a lot if you know the different techniques.

          [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Onrjb7ohIL4&w=560&h=315%5D

          • Kiwiz

            Thank you for the vid. I feel like this will help a lot. I think I’m doing over steering and under steering. And the awkward steering at 4:11 is how I steer sometimes so I need to fix that.

            • I am glad it helped a bit. Just keep practicing… you will get it!!

          • Kiwiz

            Sorry I forgot to add this part: When the guy turns the wheel to the right, is he turning 3/4 of 1 turn of the wheel? Does this differ, I heard a “perfect turn” is 1 1/2 turns but honestly I don’t even get to count cause i”m so frazzled on just trying to turn the wheel so I don’t hit things.

            • Are you talking about just turning a normal right turn? Usually you turn the wheel 3/4 of a circle for this type of thing. If you turn 1 1/2 (or there abouts) that is WAY too much steering for a right turn… This will be so much extra work, and then you will have to do all that extra work to “un-do” the steering… very tedious.

        • Also have you read this one?


          I can’t beleive I wrote this whole article and I only talked about left turns, nothing at all about right turns, It’s like I forgot that cars can also turn right, lol.

          I’m going to make a new video tutorial for this subject but it will take me about a week.

          The other thing that helps so much is to look where you want to go. The car goes where the driver is looking.

          • Kiwiz

            Thank you for your help again. I haven’t read that article until you reposted the link. Its very informative. I tend to cut the corner when turning left too. Like today I went over the yellow divider just a little bit because I think I over steered but mostly it’s because I kept staring at the yellow line reminding myself not to go over it that I ended up there, you are right it’s best to look where you want to go far ahead but I think it’s human nature well my nature at least to look at the objects/obstacle that worries me to keep a watch out and tell myself don’t cross here, don’t hit the curb, watch this etc that I end up actually stumbling on them. I’m not sure how else to fix this but with practice I guess. Thanks, I will keep a look out on your new video tutorial.

            • Yeah whenever the driver looks at things they don’t want to hit, they end up driving in a zig-zag pattern which kind of looks like they are bouncing from one obstacle to the next, rather than deciding where they actually want to go and going there. That is a lot like life in general! Some people go through all these jobs that they hate and bounce from one to the next. But really you could decide on where you want to be and then figure out how to go there and then go there!! haha I am getting all philosophical tonight. Sorry! 😉