Turning Right At Green Lights – Comprehensive Tutorial

Turning Right on a Green Light – Beautiful BC, Canada

Turning right at a green light is another one of those important skills that learners and new drivers must practice to get really good at. Let’s break this down and discuss some of the most common sources of confusion for new drivers and all drivers. You can also read our epic left-turning tutorial.

Contents:

  1. Who Has the Right-of-Way?
  2. Do You Have to Stop at a Green Light When Turning Right?
  3. Can You Turn Right on a Green Light Without an Arrow?
  4. Know Who You Are Yielding To
  5. Pay Attention To Your Vehicle Positioning
  6. Watch For Pedestrians
  7. More on Pedestrians
  8. The Oncoming Left-Turning Vehicle(s)
  9. Dealing With Multiple Lanes
  10. Which Lane Should You Turn Into?
  11. When The Light Turns Yellow
  12. Right Turn On Green Light with Yield Sign
  13. You May Need to Yield to a Left-Turning Vehicle
  14. Turning Left After Right at Yield Sign
  15. Spotted: Baby on Board (totally random)
  16. Conclusion

BC Motor Vehicle Act – Right Turns at Green Traffic Lights

Turning at intersections

165   (1)If the driver of a vehicle intends to turn it to the right at an intersection, the driver must cause it to approach the intersection and then make the turn as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway.

Green light

127   (1)When a green light alone is exhibited at an intersection by a traffic control signal,

(a) the driver of a vehicle facing the green light

i). may cause the vehicle to proceed straight through the intersection, or to turn left or right, subject to a sign or signal prohibiting a left or right turn, or both, or designating the turning movement permitted,

(ii) must yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully in the intersection or in an adjacent crosswalk at the time the green light is exhibited, and

(iii). must yield the right of way to vehicles lawfully in the intersection at the time the green light became exhibited, and

(b). a pedestrian facing the green light may proceed across the roadway in a marked or unmarked crosswalk, subject to special pedestrian traffic control signals directing him or her otherwise, and has the right of way for that purpose over all vehicles.

Beautiful British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act Opens in a new tab.

Wondering who has the right-of-way when turning right on a green light? Nobody really ‘has the right-of-way.’ Rather, certain road users should yield to others. But in theory, and generally speaking here:

  • Pedestrians may proceed across the crosswalk when they have the “walk” signal
  • Right-turning vehicles must yield to pedestrians and cyclists
  • Left-turning vehicles must yield to pedestrians, cyclists, and right-turning vehicles

Do You Have To Stop At a Green Light When Turning Right?

No, please don’t stop at a green light when you’re turning right unless you’re yielding to pedestrians and/or cyclists. If there are left-turning vehicles in the intersection, they are supposed to be yielding to you. If there are no pedestrians and/or cyclists to yield to, then slow to around 20 km/hr, shoulder check, and simply turn.

Can You Turn Right On a Green Light Without An Arrow?

  • Yes, you can. If you’re facing a green light, the green light means go, just yield to pedestrians and/or cyclists
  • Arrows are an optional traffic control device, used for some intersections, but not all

Turning Right on a Green Light – Know Who You Are Yielding To

Do you have to yield when turning right on the green?

In theory, when you are turning right on a green light, the only other road users you normally need to yield to are pedestrians and cyclists.

Yielding to the left-turning vehicle sometimes

Of course, you may need to yield to someone or something else – such as a left-turning vehicle, if it has already turned and is subsequently in your way or if you’re clearly about to

Drivers who are turning left are supposed to yield to drivers who are turning right in this situation. But of course, in the real world, things may be different, and it’s good to get ready for this.

That’s why it’s the only safe way to think, “that car is supposed to yield“…

… Rather than, “I have the right of way.” Not trying to be dramatic, but the difference between these two ideas may be the difference between a crash or a peaceful drive.

If the other car doesn’t yield

If they don’t yield, then you don’t have the right of way. If no one gave me birthday-cake-flavored Timbits for my birthday, then I don’t have them. Oh, maybe that’s a little different. But anyway, you can read more about the right-of-way rules here.

Pay Attention To Your Vehicle Positioning When Turning Right on a Green Light

Get your vehicle closer to the curb

Whenever possible, try to move your vehicle closer to the curb before the right turn so that vehicles behind you can possibly fit by in case you do stop for pedestrians.

Mirror checks, shoulder checks

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 within your blind spot.

If there are no pedestrians and any left-turning vehicle is clearly yielding, then simply turn.

turning right on a green light

Turning Right on a Green Light – Watch For Pedestrians

If you do see pedestrians crossing…

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.

Don’t stop behind the white stopping line

In other words, do not wait behind the stopping line as you would if your light were red. You do want to pull forward as long as there’s no other right-turning vehicle in front of you.

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 most 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.

If the left-turn vehicle doesn’t yield

Again, that’s how it’s supposed to go in theory, which is nice. Sometimes, the left-turning vehicle may try to go first and you do need to keep an eye on that. If they don’t yield to you, simply let them go first and then turn after them. Life doesn’t always go as we plan. But it can go two seconds after that, which is no big deal really.

More Details On Pedestrians When Turning Right on a Green Light

How much time/space to give pedestrians?

Give the pedestrians some extra time before you turn. When can I turn after waiting for pedestrians?

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 may seem 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.

turning right and left
intersection right turns

That Oncoming Left-Turning Vehicle when Turning Right on a Green Light

Do keep an eye on the left-turning vehicle.

The driver doing a left turn is supposed to be yielding to you. However, this doesn’t mean that they will.

If it turns when it shouldn’t, then simply let it go. Let it go first, like, literally, but also if you’re the type who holds a grudge; it’s just not good for you! Let it go first and go after it. Simple.

We are staying alive here, and getting to our destination in one piece, not proving a point about right and wrong. Humans are imperfect and that’s a fact.

Dealing With Multiple Lanes when Turning Right on a Green Light

Double left turning lanes

If there are two lanes, then avoid turning at the exact same time as the left-turning vehicle.

You need some extra space Opens in a new tab.around your vehicle at all times and turning at the same time robs you of this safety cushion. It is part of being a safe, defensive driver.

Try to time it so you turn before it or after it, but not simultaneously.

turning right into correct lane

Which Lane Should You Turn Into?

Turn into the ‘proper’ lane

Legally when you turn right, you’re required to turn into the right lane; and the driver of any left-turning vehicle is required to turn into the left lane.

Lane changes after turning

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 (duh)
  3. Your left-turn signal is flashing
how to turn right

Turning Right on a Green Light – When The Light Turns Yellow

If you’re approaching the intersection for the right turn and the traffic light goes yellow, you are legally required to stop your automobile behind the white line and yield to others, unless it is not safe to stop (point of no return).

See Right Turns on Red Lights for more info. Traffic lights legally control traffic that is approaching intersections; not traffic that has already entered.

Turning Right on a Green Light With Yield Sign

intersection yield sign right turn

If you’re turning right at a yield sign at an intersection that also has a green light, remember that the traffic control device you need to follow is the yield sign.

Green light offers clues

The green light just happens to be there. It can give you clues.

Use the green light to tell you where the relevant traffic might be coming from, and who you may need to yield to. Turn on your right signal, as this is still just a right turn, right?

If The Light Is Green, You May Need To Yield To A Left-Turning Vehicle

left turn vehicle
You can’t assume that the left-turning car will stay in it’s own lane. Wait to be safe. You are the one facing the yield sign so you must yield anytime there will be a potential conflict.

Turning Left After Turning Right At The Yield Sign?

If you’re needing to turn left soon, then simply yield to both lanes of traffic. Then, switch your signal to a left signal and continue into the left lane. Remember shoulder checks for lane changes.

ntersection right left turn

Spotted: Baby On Board (Literally)

photo-11

Omg, I know how to use the word “Literally.” I know, it’s random, isn’t it? It’s funny the things you see when you drive around a lot.

When Can I Go Into a Bus Lane Before a Right Turn?

Pay careful attention to signs and pavement markings. Since it’s illegal to change lanes over a solid white line, make sure the line is dotted before you move.

I’m not sure there’s a cut-and-dry answer for this. Do it sometime when it is safe, not crossing solid white lines, and not too far in advance that you are blatantly driving in the bus lane for miles and miles and receive a ticket.

Usually I would aim for about 3/4 – 1/2 block. If you wait too long and get too close to the intersection, other vehicles may be in the space, so consider the vehicle behind you and remember to signal early.

buslane

After the last lane-way, might be a good rough guideline:

buslane2

Perhaps, “After the last parked car,” can be a guideline.

buslane3

If anyone has a better answer, let me know.

Conclusion – Turning Right on a Green Light

Turning right on a green light is another necessary skill for all drivers to have. It’s generally a much safer option when compared to turning left at a traffic light.

This is because right turns merely turn across a pedestrian and cyclist path, whereas left turns turn across those, as well as oncoming traffic.

And the thing about the oncoming traffic is:

  • It’s dangerous
  • It’s unpredictable
  • Drivers are often speeding, and this can be hard to judge
  • You can’t trust the turn signals; you aren’t sure where the cars are actually going to go or turn

Sometimes left turns can not be avoided, but sometimes they can by turning right 3 times and driving in a circle (I mean square).

Practicing your right turns at many different intersections gives you the best possible experience. Always remember to do one and possibly two shoulder checks for these and other right turns, depending on if you’re changing the positioning of your vehicle and/or stopping before your right turn.

This is, of course, to check your blind spot, and blind spot mirrorsOpens in a new tab. can help to reduce surprises. Read more about right turns without stop signs.

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Carmen

Carmen became a driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, Canada and is an experienced writer, blogger, photographer, artist, philosopher, certified day dreamer and generally complicated human.

37 thoughts on “Turning Right At Green Lights – Comprehensive Tutorial

  1. perhaps this blog is no longer active, but I’ve got a burning question about a right turn on a green light.

    If you are leaving a parking lot complex (shopping center, church, etc.) and there is a green light for both the turning lane and the person making the right who has the right a way? I was told because it’s a private drive the person making the left has the right a way. It just seems strange to me that the person making the right also has a green light.

    Thanks!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

        R….

        1. 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 :)

    2. 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.

  5. 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

    1. 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.

      1. 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

        1. 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.

          https://youtu.be/wZ39D9krwlo

          1. 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.

        2. 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]

          1. 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.

          2. 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.

            1. 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.

        3. Also have you read this one?

          http://drivinginstructorblog.com/q-cutting-corners-turning-wide/

          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.

          1. 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.

            1. 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! ;)

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